Imagine waking up one February morning to a beautiful, seemingly complicated Valentine’s Day breakfast in bed. You rub your bleary eyes, then look a little closer to see the decadent masterpiece that is this French toast, complete with dollops of sour cream and a drizzle of syrupy strawberry compote.
Next, you’re thinking, “how on hell did my significant other manage to pull this off?” What if I told you that this breakfast was actually soooo easy to make? I love my challah French toast recipe for many reasons, mainly because it’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet (and you guys know how I feel when things are toooo sweet). I like to use challah when making French toast, because unlike regular soft bread, challah ends up fluffy, thick and custardy, with a crispy exterior. The strawberry sauce is a breeze to pull off, and mixing it with sour cream gives you a slightly more tart shortcake vibe I’m all about (you could totally swap in whipped cream, come to think of it!). OK, so I know I keep saying how easy this is – but if your S.O. makes it for you, just play dumb and pretend like this is some Cordon Bleu level shit. That’s the true spirit of Valentine’s Day…
- 1 pound strawberries, ends trimmed, left whole (or halved if really big)
- 1⁄4 cup sugar
- Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 (1-pound) loaf challah
- 4 eggs
- 1¾ cups whole milk
- 1⁄4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Kosher salt to taste
- Dash of grated nutmeg
- Butter, for the skillet
- 1 cup sour cream
- Fresh mint and ground cinnamon for serving
Make the strawberry sauce:
Combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the berries begin to release their liquid and the liquid cooks and thickens, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon zest, and cool to room temperature.
Make the French toast:
Preheat the oven to 200°F. Cut the bread into 1½-inch thick slices. In an 8-inch square baking dish, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, a few pinches of salt, and the nutmeg.
Dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture for 10 seconds per side if you want lighter, fluffier French toast, or 20 per side for denser creamier French toast. Put the slices of bread on a baking sheet to hold.
Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Grease the skillet generously with butter and add as many slices of bread as will fit comfortably in one layer. Cook until the bread is golden and toasty, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and keep warm, covered with foil, as you make more batches. Repeat with remaining bread, greasing the skillet again between batches.
Arrange the finished French toast on a platter and dollop with sour cream. Pour the strawberry sauce on top, and garnish with mint and a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you like.