Stale bread + nostalgia = French toast. Molly and Matthew dredge up hazy, eggy memories; then it’s a present-day smackdown between Molly’s artisan approach and Matthew’s diner-style delights. Recipe: French toast x2.


Matthew’s version of Cook’s Illustrated’s French Toast

From “_A Homemade Life_”:

_Look for bread with a soft, light crumb, and not too dense. Supermarket French bread works well._

3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Canola or other flavorless oil, for frying
6 to 8 slices day-old bread, cut on the diagonal, about 3/4 inch thick
Pure maple syrup, for serving

Break the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl or, as my dad did, an 8-inch square Pyrex dish. Whisk the eggs to break up the yolks. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg and whisk to blend.

Place a heavy large skillet–preferably cast iron–over medium-high heat, and pour in enough oil to completely coat the bottom of the skillet. Let the oil heat until you can feel warmth radiating from it when you hold your hand close to the pan. To test the heat, dip the tip of a finger into the egg mixture–not the oil!–and flick a drop into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready.

Meanwhile, when the oil is almost hot enough, put 2 to 3 slices of bread into the egg mixture, allowing them to rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. They should feel heavy and thoroughly saturated, but they shouldn’t be falling apart. Carefully, using tongs, places the slices in the skillet. They should sizzle upon contact, and the oil should bubble busily around the edges. Watch carefully: with hot oil like this, the slices can burn more quickly than you would think. Cook until the underside of each slice is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip and cook until the second side is golden, another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with a paper towel, and allow to sit for a minute or two before serving.

Repeat with the remaining bread. If, at any point, the bread starts to burn before it has a chance to brown nicely, turn the heat back a little. You want to keep it nice and hot, but not smoking.

Serve hot with maple syrup.

Yield: 6 to 8 slices, serves 2 to 3