Sunday, September 21, 2008

French Toast!

One of my favorite childhood breakfasts was french toast, afloat on a veritable sea of butter and maple syrup. This was sort of a special event, since we weren't really a sit down breakfast family; on an ordinary day, a cup of tea and an English muffin would probably be it, but on a weekend or holiday we'd get something more exciting. Anyway, as an adult, I find that the combined flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and maple summon up all sorts of comforting associations, especially now that autumn is here and the mornings are cool. Yesterday was one of the first days we reached for the warm, fuzzy robes before heading downstairs, and since it was Saturday, I thought: "Hmmmm...(vegan) french toast and (tempeh) bacon!"

There are a number of good vegan french (or, as they are often called, "fronch!") toast recipes out there; the common denominator is chickpea flour, which does something miraculous to the batter. If you've never tried it, I guarantee you will be astonished at the way it helps ordinary bread achieve the magical, crispy texture of those cozy childhood breakfasts. The following recipe is the way I do it, but the quantities are probably pretty forgiving; I like a fairly thick, gloppy batter and whole grain bread, while you may prefer it thinner, or want to use white bread, or French bread, or even raisin bread, you crazy nut. It's also possible you may not share my cinnamon/vanilla jones (although I find that incomprehensible), so go ahead and tinker around until you get the french toast of your dreams. Then again, you may decide that it's perfect, just the way it is!

French Toast

~ 6 slices toasted whole grain bread (I like the Ezekiel sesame variety)
~ 6 oz. vanilla soy yogurt (or plain, but more vanilla is always better!)
~ 1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk
~ 1 tbsp. maple syrup
~ 1 tsp. vanilla extract
~ 1 tsp. cinnamon
~ 1/2 tsp. salt
~ 1 tbsp. corn starch
~ 1/4-1/3 chickpea flour, depending how thick you want your batter

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
~ In a relatively shallow mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the toasted bread. The batter doesn't have to be totally smooth, but everything should be well combined. Place one slice of toasted bread in the batter and let it sit for a minute or two.
~ Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with cooking spray or about 2 tbsp. canola oil.
~ Add the soaked bread to the pan and cook on each side for about 2-3 minutes, until miraculously brown and crispy; as you cook each soaked slice, put another dry one in the batter to await its turn in the pan.
~ Adding more oil or cooking spray as necessary to prevent sticking, continue until all the bread is cooked, transferring the finished slices to a baking sheet to keep warm in the oven.
~ Serve with vegan margarine, maple syrup, sliced fresh fruit and tempeh bacon for a breakfast (or brunch, or even dinner, what the hell!) that will fill your tummy with a warm, happy feeling on a chilly fall day.

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