The recipes I have posted on this site may not reflect it, but truth be told, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I enjoy it most during slow days like Sundays, when I really don’t need to worry about my schedule. I enjoy breakfasts and brunches with friends or relatives, and I delight in going to breakfast buffets once in a while, and they are indeed a guilty pleasure.
I’m really not a solid fan of pancakes. But the list is still almost endless: I love bacon, longanisa, corned beef, danggit, gourmet tuyo, congee with century egg, smoked salmon, and even salmon sashimi among many dishes. Of course, I love sinangag in the morning, and like it crunchy. I love a good omelet too.
Of all the dishes, one stands out as my greatest favorite: french toast. They always make me smile. I fondly remember my Lola Ditas making it for me in San Diego. And I enjoyed the pancakes at IHOP too in the US. Happy memories indeed! I don’t know, but having breakfast brings a certain degree of happiness that lunch or dinner don’t, especially if you share them with people close to you.
So why don’t I make my own instead of just ordering from a restaurant? I was inspired yesterday, when I watched a podcast produced by Martha Stewart. Her twist: she would put caramelized pears in between the two slices of the fried french baguette.
Naturally, I wanted to make my own twist. I wanted to use different berries, as well as mango. The result: two very scrumptious versions of the breakfast classic, which can be eaten any time of day.
Bread and Custard
(I actually made the fillings first to make the cooking easier, but let me explain the bread and custard first.)
I wanted the bread to be tasty even without the custard, so I set out to look for cinammon loaves, which my Lola Ditas used. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any. I did, however, find a whole-wheat honey oats loaf, produced locally by a famous brand.
For the custard, I mixed 6 eggs and a cup of milk. I mixed in some cinnamon, fresh juice from a lemon and orange, as well as their zest. I also put a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Make sure to dip the bread for only 1-2 seconds so that the bread does not crumble or tear easily. Before frying the slices in a pan, get two slices. Sandwich the filling in between the two slices.
In a pan, fry each side the “sandwich” for about a minute or until the custard gets cooked to your liking. I use normal cooking oil, which does not have any flavor, unlike butter. Transfer to a plate lined with a napkin to remove excess cooking oil. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
Extra notes: I loved the taste of the of the honey oat bread, but they tend to crumble easily because they are already soft to begin with, and are pre-sliced. That is why you need to be quick and careful when you dip the bread into the custard. You may also wish to consider choosing other breads like rye bread, or the usual french baguette, which you yourself can slice to a more appropriate thickness.
I used mixed berries for the first version. The challenge of doing this in a country like the Philippines is that they are not usually available in groceries. And if they are, they come at a rather expensive price. A small pack of fresh raspberries cost P350 at a supermarket.
Recently, however, I discovered packs of mixed berries, available at the frozen section of a membership shopping club in Alabang for around P250++, which was very reasonable. The pack already included strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
Make sure the berries are in room temperature, which you can do by thawing them for half an hour. You can also buy the fruits individually in cans, and they are available in select groceries and baking supply shops.
In a pan with low heat, saute the berries in butter and brown sugar until they have softened and fully absorbed the sugar. You can add a pinch or two of cinnamon for extra flavor. As far as I am concerned, you won’t be able to tell that frozen berries were used.
I would set the berries aside first and then proceed to making the bread and custard.
Mango and Strawberry
The other version of the filling makes use of mango and strawberry. Of course, I am taking advantage of mangoes being in season this month of May. I used frozen strawberries and fresh mango. It’s the same procedure: saute the two fruits in a pan with butter and brown sugar. To ensure the sweetness of the mango, I put the sliced mangoes in a bowl first and drizzle them with sugar. The good thing about using frozen strawberries is that they are surprisingly cheaper than buying fresh strawberries, considering the quantity that you get. Also, fresh Baguio strawberries are off season and not available during the wet months.
For extra flavor
Yum-o! Additional chocolate chips and nutella made the dish even more delicious!
PS: Did you know that the French call French toast as “pain perdu”, translated as “lost bread”? French toast is a way to redeem and still have good use for day old breads.