Wake up to a very special morning with the divine scent of thick slices of tender-sweet challah bread, soaked in eggy custard, being fried in butter. Topped with creamy-dreamy ricotta flavored with orange zest and a mound of vanilla-scented sweet strawberries, it doesn’t get much more extravagant than this!
But truly, this over-the-top French toast couldn’t be easier. The ricotta and strawberry mixtures can be made a few hours in advance and take only minutes to whip up. And once you tuck into this gorgeous brunch, you know it will be well worth the effort. For full breakfast perfection, serve this with thick slices of crisp smoked bacon and flutes of mimosas.
You can use the same technique to make standard French toast. Just soak slices of challah or brioche (or your favorite whole wheat or white bread) in the egg mixture and fry as directed. Serve with salted butter and pure maple syrup, and some fresh fruit if you like.
Recipe: Challah French Toast with Fresh Ricotta and Strawberries
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese, such as Bellwether
- 5 to 6 tbsp sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 small orange
- 2 cups hulled and sliced ripe, fresh strawberries (about 12 oz)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 6 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Kosher salt
- 1 loaf challah bread, cut into 1-inch-thick slices (about 10 slices)
- Unsalted butter, for frying
- In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta, 2 to 3 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you might like it), and orange zest. In another bowl, toss together the strawberries, remaining 3 tbsp sugar, and the vanilla bean seeds. Set aside.
- In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Add the bread, pressing to submerge it in the egg mixture. Turn to coat each bread slice. Let sit for about 5 minutes, turning and re-coating the bread slices occasionally.
- Warm a large griddle or two large frying pans over medium heat. Add butter to the pan to create a thin coating. Add as many bread slices as you can easily fit into each pan or on the griddle. Cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 6 minutes.
- Transfer to a warm platter or divide between warmed individual plates. Serve, topping each portion with a dollop of the ricotta and a heaping spoonful of strawberries and their juices.