As if it was possible for babka -- that yeasty bread studded and swirled with chocolate or cinnamon-- to get any better, dipping it in a vanilla and orange scented creamy custard and toasting it up in butter transforms an already decadent treat into a french toast miracle. While this recipe calls for chocolate babka, a cinnamon swirled one would also be delicious. Play off the sweetness of this french toast by topping it with a bit of flaky salt, some tangy mascarpone or even a swirl of your favorite tart raspberry or orange jam.
We are partial to Mekelburg's babka, which is baked fresh daily in Brooklyn, New York and can be ordered online and shipped across the States.
Babka French Toast
- 1 loaf chocolate babka, such as Mekelburg’s, sliced 1-inch thick
- 5 large eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
- Zest of 1 orange (optional)
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or another neutral oil), divided
- For Serving, any combination of the following: flaky salt, confectioners' sugar, butter, maple syrup, yogurt, mascarpone, additional orange zest, raspberry or orange jam
Gather the ingredients.
Place the babka slices on a rack set over a baking sheet to dry out for a few hours, or overnight. Alternatively, use the quick dry method described below.
Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and sugar in a large bowl or casserole dish.
Whisk in the half-and-half and orange zest, if using.
Place a few slices of the dried out babka in the custard and let sit, turning once, until completely soaked through, for a total of 4 minutes.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat until the butter foams. In batches, cook the bread until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining french toast slices, adding remaining butter and oil as needed to keep the pan coated.
Serve french toast topped with a bit of flaky salt and any other toppings of your choice.
--Quick Dry Method: If you don’t have the time to let the slices dry out for hours or overnight, you can quickly dry them out by placing the slices on a rack set over a baking sheet and popping them in a 300 F oven for 20 minutes. This will not toast the bread, but will dry it out enough to get similar results, allowing the custard to absorb into the slices without making the final result too soggy.
--Keeping French Toast Warm: To keep french toast slices warm while you cook, place the cooked slices on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 200 F while finishing the remaining slices.