I love the flavors of Scandinavian baking, and one of the dominant ones is cardamom. The idea to use cardamom bread for French toast occurred to my mother and me jointly when deciding what we should provide for breakfast for a crew of us the day after a very long Nordic ski race. This was the absolute perfect big, celebration breakfast. The addition of maple-pear compote was born out of my love of the combination of pears and cardamom. And as much as I adore whipped cream, I like to add creme fraiche to French toast instead to liven it up and not add more sweetness. I got the technique of putting the toast into the oven before serving from a friend. It seems to help in preventing cold or soggy toast, and allows you to serve it all at the same time. —fiveandspice
Cardamom French Toast
loaf Scandinavian-style cardamom bread (preferably homemade), sliced into ½ inch slices and allowed to dry over night
butter for cooking
creme fraiche and maple-pear compote (see below), for topping
Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar, salt, and cardamom, until combined. Then, gradually whisk in the milk to make a pretty smooth batter. Pour into a pie pan or baking dish.
Heat a Tablespoon or so of butter in a large frying pan over medium heat (or slightly lower). In the meantime, dip a couple of slices of bread in the batter for about 15 seconds on each side.
Add the dipped slices to the hot frying pan, fitting in as many slices as you can while still leaving them space around each. Cook the bread slices until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side, then remove to a cooling rack.
Repeat the dipping and frying procedure until all of the bread is cooked, adding butter to the frying pan as needed.
Place the entire cooling rack with toast slices on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, to rewarm, and prevent sogginess. To serve, divide French toast between plates and top each serving with maple-pear compote and a dollop of crème fraiche. Offer additional maple syrup, if desired.
In a large pan, heat butter over medium until melted. Stir in maple syrup and lemon juice and allow to heat until starting to bubble around the edges.
Add the pears, and gently stir to coat with syrup. Turn heat down to low, and simmer until pears are softened, about 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, re-warm slightly if needed, and pour over French toast slices.
I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (www.vikredistillery.com), where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.