Friday, May 14, 2010


My favorite place to get French toast in Florida is TooJay's, a Jewish deli. Seriously, it is superdelicious: thick-cut challah bread dipped in egg, grilled to perfection, topped with confectioner's sugar, tons of butter and syrup. Pardon me for drooling; I really should have worn a bib to talk about breakfast treats.

What makes the French toast so out of this world is the challah. It's a dense, egg-based bread that can be baked as a loaf, rolls, knots, even just a plain ball, but the most impressive way to serve it is as a thick, massive braid. It's beautiful: pale yellow on the inside, chewy, and will make all of your dreams come true.

A little over the top? Maybe.

I finally decided to bite the bullet and make my own challah a couple of weeks ago. John Paul and I ate the entire loaf in two days. (What can I say? We really like carbs.) It's perfect toasted with jam for breakfast, lunch or a mid-afternoon pickup. It's also surprisingly easy to make! I used my standing mixer's dough hook to knead the dough; if you don't have one, the dough only requires 5-7 minutes of hands-on kneading. I used the Williams-Sonoma recipe, but had to fiddle with it a smidge when I ran out of all-purpose flour (substituted half the flour for whole wheat).

If you have an afternoon free and want your kitchen to smell wonderful, try baking some bread. Not only will your friends, boyfriends and dog (if you have one) love you a little more, but it's amazing what can happen with a little yeast, flour, and eggs. Kind of reaffirms your idea that everything is going to be just fine.

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