Cinnamon-Almond French Toast

I’ve come to conclude that there are two types of people in this world – those that love breakfast food, and those that could take or leave it. To this day, I still don’t understand my mom’s ambivalence towards decadent treats like Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping, Brown Sugar-Bacon Buttermilk Waffles, or the world’s Best Buttermilk Pancakes. She does love my scones, though – the Cinnamon-Sugar and Dark Chocolate Chip are her favorites. It goes without saying that I didn’t get my love for all things pancake, waffle, bacon, and sausage from my mom. I could easily eat breakfast food for, well, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a fluffy stack of pancakes with breakfast sausage for dinner. Who’s with me?! Needless to say, I won’t be whipping up any breakfast-centric meals for my mom on Sunday for Mother’s Day, but thought that you might be, and wanted to share an awesome French toast recipe with you.

A little over a year ago when my Chief Culinary Consultant and I were down in Florida visiting  his parents, they took us to a popular breakfast spot called John G’s. When we ordered, his parents both got the cinnamon-nut French toast and said it was the best thing on the menu. We apparently didn’t listen closely enough, and went ahead and ordered other things. Breakfast came, and when I was offered a bite of the French toast I didn’t hesitate. I immediately regretted my decision not to get it. We haven’t been back there since, but that French toast dances in and out of my mind every so often. With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to try to recreate that wonderful French toast with an almond and cinnamon-sugar coating. I used a basic Cook’s Illustrated French toast recipe, dressed it up a little, threw on some pearls, and made some adjustments. The end result is now my favorite French toast – the bread is crisp on the outside, soft inside, and coated with sliced almonds and the crunch of a cinnamon-sugar layer.

It’s just fancy enough to make it something extraordinary, but not the least bit fussy. That’s the perfect recipe for a special, stress-free breakfast!

One year ago: Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie {Kentucky Derby Pie}
Two years ago: Snickery Squares
Three years ago: Coffee-and-Espresso Cheesecake

Cinnamon-Almond French Toast

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

8 large slices challah or good-quality sandwich bread, sliced ½-inch thick
1½ cups whole milk, warmed
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + 2 tablespoons for cooking
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Triple Sec (optional, can substitute orange juice)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¾ cup sliced almonds

For the Topping:
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place the bread on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking dish. Bake bread until almost dry throughout (center should remain slightly moist), about 16 minutes, flipping slices halfway through cooking. Remove bread from rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt, vanilla extract, Triple Sec, and orange zest until well blended. Stir in the sliced almonds. Transfer the mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a small bowl, stir together the 4 tablespoons granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon; set aside.

3. Soak the bread in the milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, about 20 seconds per side, ensuring that some almonds adhere to the bread. Using a slotted spatula, pick up a bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices. Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter. Sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon-sugar topping over one side of each slice of soaked bread.

4. Heat ½ tablespoon unsalted butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When the foaming subsides, use the slotted spatula to transfer 2 slices of the soaked bread to the skillet, cinnamon-sugar side down first, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. While they cook, sprinkle the top of the bread with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Flip and continue to cook until the second side is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes longer. (If the toast is cooking too quickly, reduce the temperature slightly.) Transfer to the baking sheet in the oven. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding ½ tablespoon butter for each batch. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and/or drizzled with maple syrup.

(Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

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40 Responses to “Cinnamon-Almond French Toast”

  1. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious on May 8, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Absolutely gorgeous! And just in time for Mother’s Day. This is going to be an absolute hit!

    Reply

  2. Xiaoxi on May 8, 2012 at 12:49 am

    Hi, I am new to your blog and whole blog world. I started baking last summer, and I JUST LOVE IT. I have been looking through several food blogs and try to get some new ideas. All your treats are amazing. I can’t wait to try several of them. They look so pretty, too. It is so hard for me to make the goods look prettier. Any tips for making the dish not only taste good, but also look good? You make a lot of delicious sweets every day? Do you eat them all or do you give them away?

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 8th, 2012 at 9:26 am

      Hi Xiaoxi, It really comes with practice – try to garnish dishes with fruits or herbs that are in the dish, or that are a pretty, complementary color. As for eating everything – I eat some, but I also share a lot with family/friends, and freeze some as well.

      Reply

  3. amanda @ fake ginger on May 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

    That looks amazing! And I’m so with you on breakfast – last week we ate breakfast 5 nights. I could never get away with that when my husband is home so I’m taking full advantage!

    Reply

  4. Averie @ Averie Cooks on May 8, 2012 at 1:03 am

    Glad you threw on some pearls and came up with your fave french toast recipe to date!

    Reply

  5. Nancy @ CouponClippingCook on May 8, 2012 at 2:12 am

    This sounds like the perfect way to start the day. Love the crunch of the almonds and taste of the OJ or Triple Sec. Looks so pretty too.

    Reply

  6. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on May 8, 2012 at 2:22 am

    Oh my goodness – I LOVE all things french toast. This looks heavenly…

    Reply

  7. Coleens Recipes on May 8, 2012 at 3:45 am

    This looks wonderful!! Just this evening, I made plain old french toast for my grandsons and one of them “politely” told me, you know, grandma, there ARE different kinds of french toast….haha…..I guess I’ll have to make them your recipe next time. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Michelle on May 8th, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Oh how funny! Kids can say the craziest things!

      Reply

  8. Lisa on May 8, 2012 at 6:06 am

    O M G! This looks divine…..and easily adaptable for Gluten Free bread. Can’t wait to try this :)

    Reply

  9. Blog is the New Black on May 8, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Looks like a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast staple!

    Reply

  10. Jennifer on May 8, 2012 at 7:15 am

    I also love breakfast any time of day. Any time. I would never turn down breakfast unless I’m sleeping, and even then, you could probably wake me up for it. We didn’t eat a lot of french toast growing up, but as an adult, I like to try new ways to make it. This one looks amazing.

    Reply

  11. Tanya on May 8, 2012 at 7:30 am

    While I am not a breakfast person, the only item I truly love to have for breakfast is french toast! I may have to make these for myself on mother’s day! Looks to be delicious!

    Reply

  12. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on May 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Wow, what a great recipe for French Toast! I love the orange or triple sec you used!

    Reply

  13. Katrina on May 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Mmm what a delicious looking breakfast! Love those almonds!

    Reply

  14. Chris on May 8, 2012 at 8:12 am

    I haven’t had french toast in FOREVER. I first had almond french toast at a small diner in Rhode Island that’s now closed. This looks pretty close to the same thing – hello weekend breakfast!

    Reply

  15. Catalina @ Cake with Love on May 8, 2012 at 8:16 am

    I love a good french toast in the morning this one sounds just amazing!

    Reply

  16. Jessica @ Portuguese Girl Cooks on May 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

    I’m with you on breakfast any time of day! This french toast looks gorgeous and perfect for Mother’s day.

    Reply

  17. Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables on May 8, 2012 at 9:32 am

    umm I don’t understand it either. Breakfast food is EASILY the best food out there!

    Reply

  18. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on May 8, 2012 at 10:11 am

    This looks absolutely amazing!!! I have a friend staying over this week and I just might whip this up :D

    Reply

  19. Marina@Picnic at Marina on May 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    Beautiful and delicious! I haven’t made any french toasts in a while, thanks for a “gentle” reminder…:)

    Reply

  20. Jen The Passionate Foodie on May 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    This is my first time commenting, but I am a frequent to your blog. Thank you for sharing these delicious concoctions, as I have made a few of your recipes and am in love! I will be making this for Mother’s Day and can’t wait!

    Reply

  21. Laura @ The Salty Kitchen on May 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Amazing! I might try these myself for my own little Mother’s Day treat!

    Reply

  22. Kristy on May 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

    This looks amazing! Must try it out.

    Reply

  23. Patti on May 8, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Every recipe sounds absolutely amazing ! Keep your wonderful recipes coming.
    I’m gonna try this recipe on my boys ! Thanks

    Reply

  24. Grace on May 8, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Count me in! I’m a breakfast food lover and wouldn’t mind having it 3x a day.
    Can’t wait to try this with tons of fresh fruits along the side.

    Reply

  25. Heather @ Bake, Run, Live on May 8, 2012 at 11:34 am

    I’m with you- I can eat breakfast for any meal! I just find breakfast food more comforting. This looks great! I have been wanting to make challah bread- now I know what else I can do with it!

    Reply

  26. Ally on May 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    I am WITH YOU on breakfast being the best kind of food. Seriously. My girlfriends & I get together once a month for waffle dinner night. If it were up to me it would be every week. :)
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply

  27. Maria on May 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Love everything about this French toast!

    Reply

  28. Tracy on May 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Beautiful French toast! I’m with you; I can eat breakfast any time of the day!

    Reply

  29. Paula on May 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    My grandkids and I love having french toast for breakfast when they sleep over. This recipe looks wonderful and I’m anxious to try it out. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Reply

  30. Lindsey on May 8, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    This is such a great recipe for a Mother’s Day brunch. If you are feeding a crowd, check out this easy chicken taco recipe: http://www.umbrelladrink.com/2012/05/08/slow-cooker-chicken-tacos/

    Reply

  31. Deb Ebner on May 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Will someone PLEASE make this for me on Mother’s Day!?! My rule is I don’t cook on Mother’s Day.

    Reply

  32. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel on May 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    French toast is one of my absolute favorites!

    Reply

  33. Sam on May 9, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    Oh my goodness! That looks amazing!
    I am an in between breakfast person… Some days I want it for every meal, other days I am whatever about it. But this looks delish!!
    <3 Sam
    http://Www.loosingweightgaininglife.com

    Reply

  34. Jamie | My Baking Addiction on May 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    It truly doesn’t get much better than this.

    Reply

  35. Tracey on May 9, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    I love breakfast any time of day too! I would have it for dinner once a week if my husband wasn’t so opposed to the idea. Your french toast looks amazing, it would be perfect for our Mother’s Day brunch this weekend :)

    Reply

  36. Satu on January 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    Hi, Michelle I definitely don’t doubt your recipes, just one question: wouldnt all that cinnamon be cloying because it was added a few times. I’ve personally had some bad experiences wiith cinnamon and I’d like to know if there’s any ingredient I could add to make up for that cinnamon without losing flavor

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 15th, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Hi Satu, The 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in the batter isn’t much, and the cinnamon-sugar topping is meant to be crusted on similar to a snickerdoodle cookie. If you don’t like cinnamon you could certainly cut back on the amount, but I wouldn’t omit it completely.

      Reply

  37. Leah on February 12, 2013 at 12:44 am

    mmm I’m always on the hunt for new breakfast (and been in the need for french toast) inspirations. I cannot wait to try this, i never thought to put almonds in it but that extra crunch would be scrumptious!

    Reply

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