Sometimes you want to pamper your loved ones with something special to show how much you care. For me, it’s often through food and this berry stuffed French toast is a personal favourite of mine. It’s delicate, delicious, and decadent all at the same time. I’ve served this to my beloved bridal party as part of my thank you brunch, to my mom and family on her most recent birthday, and to my closest friends at my housewarming last year. Each time I’ve whipped this out, my guests devour the toasts, shower me with compliments, and immediately ask for the recipe.
As many folks with food sensitivities know, brunch and breakfast can be a challenge in restaurants. I’m gluten-free and sensitive to dairy, which is basically the bulk of any brunch menu. By making brunch at home, I can customize the ingredients to suit my diet. The stars of this recipe are the gluten-free egg bread (challah) by Molly Bee (light, fluffy and totally un-brick-like) and dairy-free Better Than Cream Cheese by Tofutti. Go get them now. Seriously good stuff.
This is surprisingly easy to put together considering the elegant finished product. Totally doable while bleary-eyed and waiting for coffee to brew. You can even make the cream cheese the night before. And if you or your guests aren’t dairy/gluten-free, you can swap for regular challah and cream cheese. No fresh berries? No problem. Spread your favourite fruit preserves instead. So many delicious options that you can experiment and treat your loved ones to their favourite fillings, whatever’s in season, or whatever you have in your kitchen. Make this and get ready to make people happy.
This recipe is a hybrid of a couple of recipes. One is from an old back issue of Fine Cooking Magazine and the other from Donna Hay’s No Time to Cook. Both are huge sources of inspiration and have been invaluable cooking resources over the years. Beautiful photography, great recipes, and food you actually want to eat.
Also, I have to give credit to my dad for teaching me how to make the perfect French toast. He briefly worked at one of Toronto’s top hotels, and would recreate their French toast for our family on Sunday mornings. He worked a lot during the week and weekends were when he would take charge and make the most fabulous gourmet breakfasts – fancy croissant sandwiches, tasty omelets, pancakes, you name it. We always felt so special as we gobbled it up. Thanks Dad, for teaching me your breakfast skills and all the delicious memories.
• ½ cup cream cheese, softened/room temperature (or dairy-free substitute Tofutti)
• 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
• 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
• 1 pint fresh raspberries
• 8 slices gluten-free egg bread (I use Molly Bee’s)
• 4 eggs
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
• Icing sugar (to garnish)
• Pure maple syrup (to serve)
1. In a medium bowl, combined softened cream cheese with lemon rind and one tablespoon of sugar and stir until combined. In a separate medium bowl, combine raspberries and one teaspoon sugar. Smash berries with the back of a fork and stir until combined. Set aside.
2. Spread two tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture onto slice of egg bread. Add two tablespoons of the raspberry mixture and spread evenly. Cover with another slice of egg bread and set aside. Repeat for all the slices of egg bread to make four sandwiches.
3. Preheat a large non-stick frying pan to medium heat for two minutes. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Melt butter in frying pan. In a deep sided dish, whisk eggs until pale yellow and stir in vanilla. Dip sandwiches into egg mixture until evenly coated on both sides and add to frying pan. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, flip over, and repeat on other side. Place on tray lined baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm.
4. Slice in half to serve. To garnish, sift icing sugar over French toast. Serve with maple syrup.