These Challah French Toast Sticks with Caramelized Bananas are my favorite breakfast for a lazy weekend morning. They feel special, but are easy enough to whip up while you’re still bleary eyed and pj-clad.
We’ve never been huge Valentine’s Day celebrators around here. That’s putting it nicely, actually. In truth, I’ve been a bit of a curmudgeon about the holiday. While everyone else is buying up bundles of red roses and heart shaped boxes of mystery chocolates (am I the only one who can’t stand not knowing what goopy filling awaits me??), I’m the one grumbling about commercialism and overpriced menus, and how Hallmark is making a fortune off their overly sentimental stock cards.
Maybe it’s motherhood or the wisdom of old age (haha), but I’ve found my heart softening to Valentine’s Day recently. It started with celebrating Galentine’s Day, the “fake” holiday made famous by Leslie Knope of Parks and Recreation. Leslie knows how to do holidays right. She leaves the commercialism behind in favor of brunch with her lady friends, sincere compliments, and thoughtful gifts. She’s the queen of making other people feel special and appreciated.
It’s that kind of heart that’s helped me warm up to not only Galentine’s Day, but Valentine’s Day as well. Why not devote a day to showing the people in our lives how much they mean to us? Why not take some extra time to say “I love you” and “you matter” and “you make my life better.” We don’t need to do it with shiny red balloons or obnoxiously large teddy bears, but some heartfelt words and a little homemade breakfast food sure doesn’t hurt.
This Challah French Toast was one of the first recipes I made for the blog, and it’s still one of my favorites. Challah bread’s egginess and slight sweetness makes it a perfect candidate for French toast. It’s sturdy enough to hold up to the custard, but doesn’t have the chewy crust that can turn a delightful breakfast into a jaw workout. I’ve made this French toast in both slices and fingers, but I’ve come to prefer the fingers since it maxes out the ratio of crispy edges to eggy centers. Feel free to do slices instead, but I recommend popping them in the oven for a bit after frying to ensure the centers aren’t soggy.
Now let’s talk about toppings. First off, whether you’re making pancakes or French toast, I must insist yo heat up your maple syrup. I mean, we’re not animals, after all.
Second–make yourself some caramelized bananas, perhaps the easiest way to feel like a kitchen genius. Sliced bananas are fried with butter and brown sugar and tossed with a bit of bourbon, just because. It seems almost wrong that something so simple could be so good. If you want to show someone just how much you care, these bananas are probably enough, but serve them up with the French toast, a dollop of butter, and a drizzle of maple syrup, and your undying love will be made abundantly clear. I hope you all have a lovely week celebrating the loves of your life. Make sure they know how thankful you are to have them on your team.
- 8 slices stale challah bread, cut in 1 inch thick fingers (About 1 loaf)
- 6 eggs
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 bananas, in 1 inch slices
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- Scant ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon bourbon (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees and place a wire rack on a sheet pan.
- In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the milk.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, soak the fingers in the egg mixture for at least 1 minute per side. Transfer the fingers to the skillet (you'll probably have to do two batches) and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is golden, another 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked fingers to the wire rack and place them in the oven to keep warm while the second batch is cooked.
- Meanwhile, make the bananas. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place banana slices in skillet in a single layer. Cover with brown sugar.
- Brown bananas on one side, then flip, allowing sugar to cook and the other side to brown.
- Remove the skillet from heat then pour in bourbon. Let sizzle for a minute, then use the bourbon to slide banana slices out of skillet and onto a plate.
- Serve the French toast warm with real maple syrup and the caramelized bananas.