Cast Iron

Maple Rosemary French Toast with Vanilla Crème Fraîche

March 24, 2012
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 very generous servings, or 8 "side dish" servings
Author Notes

Last weekend my husband and I had a delicious brunch of Duck Confit Hash and Rosemary French Toast with Vanilla Crème Fraîche served with maple syrup at the restaurant Accanto. Both dishes were delicious, and I knew I wanted to create my own version of the French toast. The original was made with a chewy crusted Italian bread, and I prefer a soft challah. I also was hoping for a little more rosemary flavor, so I infused the custard with rosemary as well as sprinkled a little atop the finished dish. I favor using a yolk only custard to minimize any "eggy" flavor in the French toast. Here's what I came up with. Both of us were quite happy to have this as a decadent supper mid-week! —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

I'll take any excuse for a decadent mid-week breakfast, especially one that so expertly plays with sweet and savory. The extra step of infusing the rosemary into the milk of the custard was nothing short of genius—every bite delivered that heavenly aroma, rounded out beautifully by the vanilla. The maple syrup facilitated a crunchy, caramel-y exterior, and the crème fraîche offered the perfect cool and creamy counterpoint to the rich toast. One suggestion: I would add a couple egg whites to the custard for some lightness. Even after 10 minutes in the pan, the center was still pretty milky. —lisina

What You'll Need
  • 1 Loaf challah bread
  • 8 to 9 inch fresh rosemary stem
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2/3 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter, plus additional for frying the toast
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 Egg yolks
  1. The night before, cut the heels off of the challah, then cut the loaf into 8 3/4-inch thick slices. Use the heels and any remaining bread for another purpose. Arrange the bread on a wire rack and leave out overnight to dry out. (If you didn't plan ahead, don't fret -- you can also dry the bread on a wire rack set over a sheet pan in a 300ºF oven. It will take about 18 minutes, flipping the bread midway. You don't want it to be dried throughout, the bread should still have a little "give." Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes before using it.)
  2. Preheat oven to 200º F. Place a wire rack on a sheet pan, and set it in the oven. Warm 4 large or 8 medium plates in the oven as well if desired. Strip the bottom 3 inches of leaves off the rosemary, and set them aside. Combine the milk, half-and-half, and rosemary stem in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium to 180 to 185ºF, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and use a fork to fish the rosemary out. Add 2 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces, to the mixture.
  3. While the butter is melting and the mixture is cooling slightly, combine the crème fraîche and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract in a small bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly, then refrigerate until ready to serve. It will thicken slightly as it cools. Finely mince the rosemary, and set aside.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 1/4 cup maple syrup, and the salt to the milk mixture. Whisk to combine. Add the egg yolks, and whisk again until the mixture is homogenous. Transfer the mixture to a flat 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish.
  5. Soak half of the bread slices in the custard for 40 to 45 seconds, flipping the slices midway. The bread should be saturated, but not tearing or disintegrating. Remove the bread from the custard using a slotted spatula. Allow excess custard to drain back into the pan, then transfer the soaked slices to a platter or sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining slices. The bread will sop up most if not all of the custard.
  6. Heat a 10 to 12-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes. Coat the bottom of the pan with 1 to 2 teaspoons of butter. Once butter has stopped sputtering, add 2 slices of toast. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the wire rack in the oven, and repeat the process until all the toast is cooked.
  7. While the last 2 pieces are cooking set up your plating station. Arrange your plates in a convenient configuration. Pour about 1 quarter cup of maple syrup into a small pitcher or liquid measure. Place the minced rosemary and crème fraîche in a convenient location.
  8. Plating the dish: arrange 1 to 2 slices on each plate. Drizzle each serving with maple syrup (about 1/2 tablespoon per slice.) Sprinkle French toast with minced rosemary (you may not use it all.) Top each serving with a dollop of crème fraîche (you should use all of it.)
  9. Serve immediately, passing additional maple syrup if desired (though it really doesn't need it.)

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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  • EmilyC
  • lapadia
  • QueenSashy
  • vvvanessa
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

30 Reviews

Paulaob February 8, 2015
So very good! Rosemary flavor was present but not overpowering. I had double creme so I used that instead of creme fraiche, otherwise followed recipe. I served some ham alongside. Will definitely be making this again.
skramcooks December 25, 2014
Made this for breakfast this morning (Xmas day). Loved it. Topped it with some blackberries and a touch of bourbon to the creme fraiche.
Nancy April 23, 2014
Has anyone actually made this? Sounds like people just comment on how great it looks and sounds. I love to get feedback from those who have actually cooked and tried the recipes.
Simply C. May 17, 2013
I'm definitely having that this week-end!
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
I hope you tried and liked it!
Geoffrey R. March 25, 2013
More, more, please!
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
EmilyC November 5, 2012
How have I missed this? It looks and sounds amazing -- I hope to try it this weekend. You could tell me to put rosemary in anything and I would, based on how much I love your rosemary pecan caramels and pear rosemary danish! : )
hardlikearmour November 5, 2012
Aww, thanks! I'm kind of a sucker for rosemary in sweet applications. It's pine-like edge really adds a lovely dimension!
lapadia November 3, 2012
Love this twist on french toast and your photo is so enticing!
hardlikearmour November 3, 2012
Why, thank you! You're too kind.
QueenSashy November 2, 2012
Love the pairing of vanilla and rosemary!
hardlikearmour November 3, 2012
I take no credit, but they make a good pair!
vvvanessa March 26, 2012
Yum! I can't wait to go back to Accanto, but I'd rather have your version of their french toast : )
hardlikearmour March 26, 2012
Thanks, tripleV! Brunch at Accanto was delicious. We went after doing the 15K Shamrock Run so had zero guilt about indulging. We also got an order of the ricotta doughnuts with lemon curd.
vvvanessa March 26, 2012
Well, we participated in no such running nonsense and got the ricotta doughnuts anyway! : )
hardlikearmour March 26, 2012
Then you missed out on the coolest finisher medal ever - a bottle opener in the shape of a glass of beer!
vvvanessa March 27, 2012
We would have gladly met you at the finish line with beers to open with you sweet new bottle opener!
drbabs March 25, 2012
Wow, this is making me hungry.
hardlikearmour March 26, 2012
Thanks, drbabs! It's definitely worth being hungry for ;-)
wssmom March 25, 2012
Oh my. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner!
hardlikearmour March 25, 2012
Thank you, kindly! Would that make it a brunchner dish?
mrslarkin March 25, 2012
oh, this sounds awesome! We love breakfast for dinner. Well done, hla.
hardlikearmour March 25, 2012
Thanks, mrsL!
lakelurelady March 24, 2012
Decadent indeed. Breaking all the rules for dinner is so accepted in my book. For some reason cooking breakfast for dinner makes me feel like the meal is easy. Go figure. Great recipe.
hardlikearmour March 24, 2012
Thank you! Even as a kid I was happy to have breakfast for supper.
gingerroot March 24, 2012
This sounds delicious. Wish I'd had some for breakfast this morning!
hardlikearmour March 24, 2012
Me too! Uploading it this morning definitely led to a craving!
aargersi March 24, 2012
You're making this for me next time we get together. I am serious. No getting out of it.
hardlikearmour March 24, 2012
Okay! I promise I'll make it for you!