While there’s nothing wrong with toast and a bowl of cereal in the morning, there’s something to be said for a full-blown Sunday brunch spread, which can be enjoyed in a leisurely manner whilst scritching a cat behind the ears or flipping through the latest batch of flyers.
There’s a particularly soft spot in my heart for French toast. It’s low-maintenance brunch food at its best, yet it seems to rise above its humble beginnings of bread and eggs by virtue of its ability to absorb maple syrup – which in my books, is always a good quality in a food. Back when we were first getting to know one another, The Boy romanced me with a brunch of thick-sliced French toast and fried ham, proving himself quite capable of providing an appealing breakfast long before there was even a reason to stay the night. I guess there is some truth to the old adage after all…
And if you’re feeling particularly inspired, a departure from regular bread opens up a wealth of possibilities. Pannetone, with its subtle hint of citrus and soft fluffy eggy insides is particularly well-suited to this application. And if you cut it in half vertically, and then into cross-wise slices, a shape reminiscent of a rising sun will appear… something that is always a welcome sight on a lazy Sunday morning.
Pannetone French Toast
1/2 pannetone loaf, cut into thick slices cross-wise
1/4 cup half-and-half cream
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest & juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp butter
In a shallow pan, whisk together eggs, cream, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest and juice until combined.
Dip pannetone slices into the egg mixture, letting soak for about 30 seconds per side. Remove to a baking rack set over a baking sheet for 1-2 minutes to drain off excess egg (this is Alton Brown’s trick for avoiding soggy French toast… it really does work!).
Using medium-high heat, melt butter in a large skillet. Place the pannetone slices in the pan, two or three at a time, and cook for 2 minutes per side or until lightly golden. Serve dusted with icing sugar or drizzled with maple syrup. And you’re really aiming to impress someone with your breakfasty prowess, a few wedges of orange dusted with cinnamon make a nice finishing touch.