I know that most people who blog about food include the recipes, while I include a link or a reference to where I found the recipe. And that’s kind of annoying. Another step, at least. But I don’t want to pretend that I’m not using someone else as a jumping off point, and unless I radically alter the recipe, I don’t want to even risk that a recipe be taken for my own work. Other people handle this with better grace than I do— I’ve been charged with being overly scrupulous, and it’s usually a charge that I have trouble denying.
But this one, my friends— this one is mine. I did refer to this recipe to help me get cooking times right, but otherwise, I dreamed this up in my tiny head when I found out I was going to be snowed in for the day, yesterday.
You may remember that I made loaves of orange bread about a week ago. I used a recipe from Joy of Cooking to do it (look under “orange bread”). The recipe was designed to yield two loaves— I wanted to shorten cooking time in an effort to get to bed earlier (a fine impulse, but one that came too late in the evening to prevent the disaster that followed), so I made them into four mini-loaves. I froze three and left one out for mom and I to try, which we did. It’s fine, but not exciting.
I thawed one mini-loaf and used what was left of the one that we had sampled (maybe 1/4 of a mini-loaf). That gave me two pans to work with. I cubed the bread (1/2 inch cubes) and threw the cubes into the pans and into the oven while it preheated, to toast them a little.
I mixed up the custard while the oven preheated— I didn’t want leftovers, so I used three eggs and about a cup of almond milk (you could use cream or half and half for something richer), a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of cardamom. You could go longer on the spices, if you wanted a more pronounced spice flavor, but this was nicely balanced. I dumped the toasted bread out, greased the pans, mixed the bread cubes with about a 1/2 to 2/3 cup of reduced-sugar dried cranberries, then poured the custard over the bread cubes and cranberries. I baked them about 20 minutes at 425 (I actually started them lower, but discovered that the higher temp is a good thing, here). Extend cooking time if you’re using a larger pan. You could do these as French toast muffins, if you wanted smaller portion sizes, but they’d cook faster, so you’d need to adjust accordingly. When the custard has set and the top has browned, it’s ready to serve.
I served it with some of the orange syrup left over from candying the orange peels, and sausage. I was worried that it would be crazy sweet, but it really wasn’t. It was a nice mix of tangy and unexpected flavors, with just the right amount of very natural sweetness. The mini-loaves were a good serving size, they turned out of the loaf pans nicely. Mom said the orange syrup really tied it all together, and I tend to agree. If you didn’t have the orange syrup, or wanted to serve it without syrup (are you sure?), you might want to sweeten the custard before you pour it over the orange bread.
Orange-Cranberry Baked French Toast for two
2/3 of a prepared loaf of orange bread (as prepared in Joy of Cooking)
2/3 c. reduced sugar dried cranberries
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk or cream
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cardamom
2 mini loaf-pans
Orange syrup, for serving
Preheat oven to 425F. Cube orange bread into 1/2 inch cubes. Put bread into loaf pans and into the oven while it preheats. Mix together eggs, milk, and spices. Remove lightly toasted bread from oven, put into large bowl. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes. Grease loaf pans. Return egg-soaked bread cubes to loaf pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until custard sets and top is golden. Serve with orange syrup (simple syrup infused with oranges, as produced by candying orange peels.)