Monday, January 12, 2009

Panettone French Toast

January is a magical month -- namely, magical in the sense of post-Christmas sales. Everything from winter coats to holiday food staples are redlined, put under clearance signs and left to fend for themselves in the masses of holiday crazed bargain hunters. After a few weeks, the remnants of the holidays are all but gone, the last of which to go are the grocery store items. All the cans of pumpkin have been reshelved, the boxes of dark brown sugar safely nestled with other forms of glucose rather than being precariously stacked in the produce aisle.

It was amid these skeletons of the festivities of 2008 that I came across Panettone on sale at Whole Foods. Especially for Italians, this bread is the very symbol of the holidays and joins the ranks of other seasonal superstars like the latke and Christmas cookies. It's a very soft, almost cakelike bread with raisins, candied orange zest, citron and other things I'm surely forgetting that's been allowed to proof for over 30 hours. In it's regular form it's the perfect complement to a cup of coffee or tea, a jovial breakfast loaf to be enjoyed for the days of recuperation in early January.

So, what exactly is my not-at-all-Italian self doing with such an "inside" staple? I can't take complete credit for this masterpiece; Foodblogga posted a lovely recipe for this dish, along with the suggestion on the box. Not all French toast is created equal, even if it's made with Italian bread. My verdict on the dish itself? PHENOMENAL! The best French toast I've ever eaten -- it's creamy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside and packed with a symphony of flavors. It was almost a little too sweet, but that may have been thanks to my generosity with the maple syrup.

Ingredients for 3 large servings:

3 slices of panettone, apx "1 in thickness
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4c whole milk
maple syrup
butter for the skillet

Combine the milk, vanilla, cinnamon and eggs. Whisk together until uniform. Place each slice of the panettone into the custard and let it soak for exactly 30 seconds; flip and do the same for the other side. Heat a skillet over medium low and melt some butter to prevent sticking. Very carefully place the slices of bread in the skillet (they will be really fragile). After 3-5 minutes, or when the bread is browned when you peek under it, flip and brown the other side. Serve hot with a bit of maple syrup or confectioner's sugar.

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