Weeknight Cooking

Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch

October 30, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: What happens when the minds behind Mission Chinese cross creme brûlée, French toast, and tres leches cake? An indulgent, 5-ingredient treat -- maybe the best pick-me-up we've ever had.

French Toast Crunch on Food52

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If the holidays are starting to unnerve you; if you're feeling in need of comfort and strength, what you need is a celebration. What you need is French Toast Crunch.

It's not what you're thinking. French Toast Crunch is Anthony Myint's brilliant brûléed buttered toast resting in a pool of warm, sweet milk: our old friend milk toast, all dressed up. 

French Toast Crunch on Food52

Milk toast has been knotted up with connotations so profoundly bland (I blame this guy) that we're starting to forget what it actually is -- which is simply toast soaked in buttered milk. In An Alphabet For Gourmets, M. F. K. Fisher calls it "a warm, mild, soothing thing, full of innocent strength" in a recipe titled, appropriately, Milk Toast (for the Ill, Weak, Old, Very Young, or Weary).

So milk toast's milquetoasty reputation could use a little flash. And where better to get it than Mission Street Food, from the team that gave us thrice-cooked bacon and kung pao pastrami? In the book, they include a chart of 13 twists, from Matcha to Baklava Toast Crunch, and you can vary it endlessly -- but this is comfort food, so you can also just keep it simple.

More: Want Mission Chinese Food's Szechuan Lamb Dumplings recipe? Peter Meehan shares it with us, sort of.

Myint explained to me over email that this is a dish born out of resourcefulness and novelty, when Mission Street Food was still a twice-weekly pop-up restaurant. They had to think fast for a new menu each night. "Oatmeal cookies and a chamomile milk shake would have been lovely but would have taken a few more hours than my week was shaping up to allow," Myint said. No wonder it's perfect for whipping up at home, whenever the need strikes.

Here's how to make it at home: Warm up some half-and-half, steep some chamomile (or Earl Grey or soothing spices) in it if you like. Then stir in just a little sweetened condensed milk. 

French Toast Crunch on Food52  French Toast Crunch on Food52

French Toast Crunch on Food52

French Toast Crunch on Food52  French Toast Crunch on Food52

Slice the best sandwich bread you can find -- pain de mie, or brioche -- really thick (about an inch).

French Toast Crunch on Food52

Butter one side heavily (Myint says two tablespoons, and -- yep -- that's fantastic, but you can eyeball it.)

French Toast Crunch on Food52  French Toast Crunch on Food52.

French Toast Crunch on Food52

Toast it on both sides till just golden -- under the broiler is easiest. You don't want to put your toaster through this.

French Toast Crunch on Food52

Dip the buttery side in sugar, then broil again.

French Toast Crunch on Food52  French Toast Crunch on Food52

Don't look away. You can use a torch for this part if you're that fancy. As Myint told me, "There's a little known section in the owner's manual when you buy a torch where you have to take an oath to brûlée whenever possible/plausible."

You can't eat this and not be happy. A bite into broiled, sugared toast -- loud, unflinching -- is matched only by the life-affirming crack of a spoon breaking through the glassy top of a creme brûlée. And when you set it in a warm milky puddle, good airy toast drinks up milk like a happy tres leches cake, while that toasty butter candy top hovers above it, keeping its crunch pristine.

Genius French Toast Crunch from Food52

When would you serve it, besides a quiet moment alone? A weeknight dinner party. A brunch party. An afternoon snack for your children, if you don't want your children to ever eat plain toast again. Christmas morning. Valentine's Day. A birthday breakfast. 

Yes, even breakfast. A sticky bun isn't the healthiest way to start the day either, but we do it. And as far as fancy bakery-level treats go, this is the only one you can have 15 minutes from now.

French Toast Crunch on Food52

Anthony Myint's French Toast Crunch

Adapted slightly from Mission Street Food (McSweeney's, 2011)

1 cup half-and-half
1/4 ounce chamomile tea (about 1/4 cup whole chamomile buds or 2 to 3 tea bags, optional)
1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk, or to taste
6 to 8 tablespoons butter, softened
Four 1-inch-thick slices of best quality bakery white bread, like pain de mie or brioche

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Ryan Dausch, except Anthony Myint & Karen Leibowitz, courtesy of McSweeney's via Eater.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Elana Carlson for this one!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Laura415
  • Phyllis Grant
    Phyllis Grant
  • Hana
  • mcs3000
  • I_Fortuna
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Laura415 March 14, 2015
The link to Mission Chinese Food's Szechuan Lamb Dumplings doesn't work. Disappointing.
Kristen M. March 16, 2015
Hi Laura -- thanks for letting us know. The link should be fixed now.
Phyllis G. November 20, 2014
making this tomorrow. hella genius.
Hana February 8, 2014
My mom used to make this for me and my sister when we were kids. Brings me to a really good time. She called it "Sugar Toast" I think she used whole milk with vanilla bean and a little brown sugar to sweeten it (because the sugar in the toast wasn't enough apparently). It was one of my favorite things as a kid. I love to see this recipe, the chamomile is brilliant. I'm going to buy some brioche and make some today. I just made some cashew cream yesterday, think I may use that instead of half and half. Thanks for bringing about a wonderful recipe!!
mcs3000 October 31, 2013
Love this, Kristen. I ate this toast at their pop-up. Yup, genius. Awesome to see Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz here. In the awesomeness of Mission Chinese, most of the media coverage today is only about Danny Bowien.
I_Fortuna October 30, 2013
Wow! This looks like a great idea. We love French toast around here. I especially like the idea of using chamomile tea in the half and half. Chai would be good too. By the way, fat free half and half is just as good as full fat. We use it often. We also use vanilla refrigerated coffee creamer for French toast and Italian sodas. It comes in so many flavors that we have not even tried yet.
lisa B. October 30, 2013
this is how we used to make cinnamon toast. French toast is the with syrup. But looks good.
@Tortepane October 30, 2013
Is that whole heads of dried chamomile you infused in the half-and-half? And do you sell it? I couldn't find it in "Pantry" on the website? @Tortepane
Emily S. October 30, 2013
I buy my chamomile buds in the Hispanic food section of my grocery store. They sell them with the spices in small bags for about 60 cents.
@Tortepane October 31, 2013
Thanks Emily, I'm in UK but at least now I know to go look for an Hispanic store and ask for chamomile buds. TY :-)
EmilyC October 30, 2013
Holy cow this looks amazing. And I want that plate to eat it from!
cathy October 30, 2013
Really, butter and sugar. Where is the creaminess of the egg and the protein from the egg??!!!
amysarah October 30, 2013
Looks heavenly. When I was a kid, my mother would halve/section a pink grapefruit, sprinkle its surface it with sugar and 'brulee' it under the broiler for us. This homey-ness of this reminds me of that.
Marian B. October 30, 2013
This is the kind of food that makes me giggle after I bite into it.
Panfusine October 30, 2013
I'm in the middle of making some bread RIGHT now (using my new ceramic loaf tins from provisions).. I know what to do with the bread. THIS!
mrslarkin October 30, 2013
omg i want this for LUNCH!
jbban October 30, 2013
This sounds so genius. Great writing! I love "A bite into broiled, sugared toast -- loud, unflinching -- is matched only by the life-affirming crack of a spoon breaking through the glassy top of a creme brûlée."