French Toast. Breakfast of dreams. So easy to make and yet a dish I often forget about, despite how much I love it. But last week after managing to escape to Paris for 2 days during the week to see one of my best friends try on her wedding dress I was facing a bank holiday weekend chained to my desk. And I needed a little reminder that yes, I was working the entire weekend, but it was also a long weekend, and long weekends should involve lazy long breakfasts involving dishes slightly more elaborate than most of us manage to pull off on a weekday morning. So when Monday came around, and my to do list was no longer quite as frightening, I made French toast. In fact, I made the French toast I had been meaning to make for ages.
There were slick slices of the Pain de Mie I picked up in Paris (you bet I am that weird person on the Thalys back to Brussels with a sourdough baguette under one arm and a bag of bread and pastries in the other hand), soaked in eggy milk before being panfried until golden in generous amounts of butter. And here comes the trick: each slice got dusted in Miso sugar (an idea I picked up from Bon Appetit years ago) for that sweet-salty-yet-funky flavour that I so adore. To serve, a compote made from the first of this year’s plums. A gentle simmer and the skins bled their gorgeous dark purple colour, staining each plum segment a deep pink. And for something a little different, two finely minced (rinsed first!) umeboshi plums got stirred into the plum compote, cutting through its sweetness and adding a layer of funky complexity.
And if you think that adding salty and funky umeboshi plums or paste to dessert is weird, please just try it. It had been on my mind for ages and I kept on hesitating. What finally convinced me to just give it a try was an umeboshi ice cream I tried at Dolcezza when I was in DC over Easter to see my friend Laura. And what can I say? I LOVED it. It was plummy, every so slightly savoury and a bit funky. If you like miso in desserts, I reckon you would love umeboshi in desserts too. Plus, if you are anything like me, I am sure that there is a pack of umeboshi plums lurking at the back of your fridge, purchased on a whim on your last trip to the Japanese supermarket and quite possibly never opened. Well, now is the time! Just a word of the wise, do rinse your umeboshi plums well before adding them to a recipe – they are extremely salty!
Oh and if you are looking for some other sweet ideas for what to do with umeboshi plums, these doughnuts sound divine!
If you want some other ideas for French toast, I love the sound of Sarah’s Baked French Toast (and baking the French toast must beat standing in front of a hot stove if you are in charge of making French toast for a crowd).
French Toast with Miso Sugar and Umeboshi Plum Compote
Note: A little out of the ordinary this French toast recipe is really fun and really plays up the slightly funky and savoury notes of miso and umeboshi. The miso sugar (an idea I picked up from Bon Appetit years ago) is a great addition to your store cupboard and can be sprinkled over anything you would normally sprinkle plain sugar, vanilla sugar or maybe cinnamon sugar over.
For the miso sugar
2 tsp white miso paste
For the French toast
1 pain de mie or brioche, ends cut off and cut into 8 thick slices
Butter to fry the French toast
For the umeboshi plum compote
2 umeboshi plums, rinsed, pit removed and finely minced
2 tbsp sugar
Start by making the miso sugar. Ideally makes this a day or two before you want to make the French toast so the sugar has time to dry out. In a food processor pulse the sugar with the miso until well combined and the sugar is an even light brown colour. Spread out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and set aside to dry. Once dry, and if the sugar seems a bit clumpy, just pulse the sugar a few times in a food processor. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
Next, whisk together the eggs with the milk in a bowl. Place the pain de mie slices in a deep casserole and pour over the eggy milk. Set aside.
Now make the umeboshi plum compote. Cut the plums in half, remove the pit and cut each half into quarters. Add to a medium saucepan together with the minced umeboshi plums and the sugar. Add enough water to just cover the plums. Simmer the plums until soft enough to easily be cut in half with a spoon but firm enough to still hold their shape (this will take ca. 10-15 minutes). Taste and add more sugar if you prefer it sweeter.
While the umeboshi plum compote is simmering, melt some butter in a large frying pan and fry the soaked bread slices in batches of 2, turning them every 2 minutes or so to ensure even browning. Place the finished slices on a plate covered with a kitchen towel to keep them warm.
To serve, for each person place two slices of French toast on a large plate, scatter each slice generously with the miso sugar and add 3-4 spoons of the umeboshi plum compote and some of the juices to each plate.