When I was in college and worked as a waitress for a hotel in North Jersey, I learned how to make French toast from the Chinese Chef at the hotel. How’s that for fusion cooking? A Chinese chef making a French dish from a traditional Jewish food? He cut the challah* into thick slices and soaked them in an egg/milk bath overnight. The next day, the bread had swelled considerably and made delicious French toast.
I took this recipe and made my own French toast variation from challah I had purchased for the New Year. I mixed coconut milk with cinnamon and vanilla extract to the egg/coconut milk mixture. I also assembled the few ingredients right in the same square pan used for soaking the challah, which I covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. (A few hours would also work.) I cut the leftover piece into lady finger-sized pieces and ate them as a snack the next day. A double treat!
Photo also from fairway blog below,which includes apples dipped in honey, another tradition for the Jewish New Year.
*Challah is the braided bread used by Jewish people on Friday nights and holidays. However, on the Jewish New Year, which just passed, a round challah is used. According to blog article entitled “Why Round Challah” on blog.fairwaymarket.com, here is why:
“In its simplest terms the holiday challah is symbolically round to reflect a few themes of the Jewish New Year. It represents the circle of life and marks the cyclical nature of the passage of a year. During this time we are to be introspective, looking back as we plan ahead, taking stock of all that has transpired and endeavoring to make resolutions to continue to better ourselves as human beings.”
My P.S. At the New Year, people often buy raisin challah for a “Sweet New Year.” My recipe uses plain challah, but feel free to purchase it with raisins when available.
Of course, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy challah. And if you like French toast, I think you will love it made from challah, round or otherwise!
Note: This picture is from the Internet. I am using my husband’s computer because mine is hard to reach while my husband puts in a wood floor in our bedroom, but that’s another story. I can add my photos when the job is finished, whenever that is. I am praying it is soon!
Utensils: Baking pan (I used 8 x 8 inches), fry pan, spatula
Prep. Time: About 10 minutes, then soak bread overnight or for several hours
Cooking Time: About 10-15 minutes, depending how well done you like your French toast
Categories: Vegetarian: eggs, butter or coconut oil
Challah (4 pieces)
1/2-3/4 cup non-dairy beverage (I used coconut milk)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
dab of butter or 1 Tbl. coconut oil
fruit-sweetened jam or pure maple syrup
- Crack eggs into baking pan that will also double as the soaking pan. Add vanilla and non-dairy beverage (If your pan is 10×10 inches, you may need 3/4 cup coconut milk, not 1/2 cup.) Mix well with a whisk or a fork.
- Slice two 1/2-inch thick pieces of challah, preferable from the middle where the pieces are longer. With a round challah, the middle pieces will be long, so cut each piece in half. You will now have 4 slices. (You can also use the shorter ends, but pieces will be difference sizes as you continue to slice.)
- Dip bread into the egg mixture and let sit for about 5 minutes. With a spatula, turn over the challah so both sides have been moistened, and then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. (The egg mixture will not be high enough to cover the top of the bread, but will be absorbed gradually.)
- When you are ready to make the challah, place a small amount of oil or butter in the pan, warm to medium heat and remove the challah from the ‘fridge to the fry pan. (I used a non-stick, ceramic fry pan, so if you use stainless steel you may need a little more butter or oil.) Fry on one side for 3-5 minutes, depending how brown you like it. Then flip over and cook on other side about the same time.
- Serve warm with jam or maple syrup. (If you want to make a double batch for more people, preheat the oven before you start to fry the challah and add cooked pieces to a slightly oiled pan and place oven on a low temperature to keep the first pieces warm as you make a bigger batch.)
Note: Some people put powdered sugar on top, but I do not like to use that plus maple syrup, which I use sparingly. Others like to serve it with fruit, but I like it plain. Make your own treat toppings. Why not whipped cream or yogurt?