Sometimes the best kitchen discoveries aren't because of a fancy new pan or the latest addition to your cookbook library. Sometimes they happen by pure accident. Some of a chef's most cherished recipes probably came about from a careless error or minor mishap. That's what happened with the case of my English Muffin French Toast—a delicious mistake I will happily make again and again.
My fiance is currently working crazy long hours on set for a television show shooting in our area. He's up at 4 AM and sometimes not home until after midnight, so Monday through Friday we are like ships passing through the night. The maternal side of me hates he isn't getting 3 square meals or regular sleep. In an effort to nurture, I at least try to have the coffee maker set and fresh fruit and vitamins nearby, in hopes he will actually eat them.
A few Saturday's ago I decided to make him a proper breakfast to make up for all the ones missed during the week. He requested creamy grits, fried eggs, and bacon. Thinking that wasn't enough, I decided to throw French toast in for good measure (I needed some sweet to balance the savory). I started the oil, whipped up the batter and then, much to my horror, discovered my new bakery bread was already spoiled. Not ready to admit defeat, I assessed the pantry and went with the next best option: English muffins. I wasn't expecting much but figured it was better than nothing.
Then I took a bite. Sweet hallelujah! Turns out, English muffin French toast tastes mighty similar to a funnel cake, of all things. A seriously amazing funnel cake at that. All those nooks and crannies yield an unmistakable airiness, and the heavy-handed vanilla in the batter adds another flavor dimension that regular bread just can't do...
So a happy accident brought about a new favorite recipe in our house. One I can't wait to enjoy for many years through.
English Muffin French Toast
Serves 6 (recipe can be easily halved)
Canola or peanut oil, for frying
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla
6 English muffins, split in half
Powdered sugar and pure maple syrup, for serving
Turn oven on warming setting. Pour about 1/4 to 1/2-inch of oil into a large cast iron skillet (or heavy, flat-sided pan) and heat over medium-high until hot but not smoking.
Thoroughly whisk the milk, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla together and pour into a shallow bowl (I use a cake or pie tin). Add 4 English muffin halves to the batter and soak, flipping frequently, until thoroughly saturated with liquid, about 1 minute.
Add the muffin halves to the hot oil. Cook on the first side for about 20-30 seconds, flip and continue cooking until muffins are golden brown. (Reduce or increase heat, as necessary, to keep oil temperature hot but not smoking.) Gently shake excess oil from the muffins and place on paper towel lined sheet pan. Pat with additional paper towels to remove excess oil, if necessary. Hold cooked muffins in warm oven while continuing with remaining muffins.
Serve French toast English muffins with powdered sugar and warm maple syrup. Leftover muffins can be stored in a Ziplock bag and reheated in the toaster oven.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)