Weekend Cooking

8-Layer Breakfast Sandwich

May 31, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

The best breakfast sandwich I have ever tasted (and possibly ever will taste) comes from a cute little restaurant called the Sunny Side Café in Berkeley, California. Dubbed "The Alameda," this sandwich is an absolute behemoth—it's got two slices of thick, savory French toast, between which are stuffed roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, a pile of Hickory-smoked ham, and melty Swiss cheese. But that's not all. To take it completely over the top, you add two sunny-side up eggs on top and drizzle hollandaise sauce and a tangy balsamic reduction over the whole thing.

Since I haven't been able to find anything remotely similar in New York City, where I live now, I had to try and recreate the recipe at home. It's a multi-step process for sure, but so long as you have each component prepped (slice the vegetables, crack the eggs, etc.) it's really just a matter of working your way through the steps. My version is pretty close to the original, only I've swapped out the ham for bacon (because it's crispy and I love it) and added in spinach (because any dish this rich could always use a bit of greenery). I like to make the hollandaise sauce (I used Eric Ripert's blender recipe) and balsamic reduction first so that I can put together the rest of the recipe in a single skillet. Speaking of skillets, you'll want to use one that's super nonstick—it'll make pan-roasting the tomatoes and flipping the sunny-side up eggs (without cracking the yolk) so much easier. —Erin Alexander

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is featured in the story, The Epic, 8-Layer Breakfast Sandwich I Dream About, sponsored by Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs. —The Editors

  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 1 (or 2, depending on how hungry you are)
Ingredients
  • For the breakfast sandwich:
  • 3 large Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, divided
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices white bread
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 thick slices tomato
  • 1 small handful mushrooms, sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 small handful fresh baby spinach (about 1/4 cup)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • 2 slices Swiss cheese
  • For the hollandaise sauce:
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 Pete and Gerry’s Organic Egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Make the hollandaise: Melt the butter on the stove or in the microwave until piping hot. Warm the blender bowl by filling with hot water and then emptying and drying the bowl.
  2. Add the egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper and blend at medium speed. Slowly drizzle in the hot melted butter with the machine still running until emulsified. Store in a covered container in a warm spot; if it start to curdle, add a drop or two of hot water and stir.
  3. Make the balsamic reduction: Add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan. Bring the balsamic vinegar up to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be thick enough to just coat a spoon. Store in a covered container in a warm spot.
  4. Make the savory French toast: In a wide bowl, whisk together 1 egg, heavy cream, plus a pinch of salt and pepper. Dredge the two slices of white bread to lighty coat them in the mixture; you don’t want it to soak too long so that it gets mushy in the center. Set a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon butter and the canola oil. Once the butter is lightly bubbling, cook the French toast until it is nicely browned on one side. Then, flip it and then cook it until it is nicely browned on the other side. Do this one at a time if your skillet isn’t large enough to hold both slices of bread. Once the French toast is done, set aside on a plate.
  5. Pan-roast the tomatoes: Using the same skillet, turn the heat to medium-high, and place the tomato slices in the pan in a single layer (they shouldn't overlap). Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on side; once they look browned, flip to the other side and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Set aside on the same plate with the French toast when done.
  6. Turn the skillet down to medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Sauté the mushrooms until they are just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach to the skillet and sauté until just barely wilted. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside on the plate.
  7. Leave the skillet at medium heat and cook the bacon until it's crispy on both sides. Set aside the slices of bacon on a paper-towel-lined plate and cut each slice in half (so it fits better in the sandwich). Turn off the heat and drain the bacon fat into a heat-safe bowl; wipe down the skillet with a paper towel (you can leave a little bacon fat in there to cook the eggs if you'd like).
  8. Leaving the skillet at medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter is bubbling and foamy, carefully crack the 2 eggs into the skillet. Cook until the egg whites are just set, but the yolk is still runny. Gently flip over and cook for about 10-20 seconds. Set aside.
  9. Turn the heat down to low and assemble the sandwich: I like to use this order: start with one slice savory French toast, stack tomato, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, 2 slices of Swiss cheese, and top with other French toast slice. Warm up the sandwich in the skillet and cover, heating it until the cheese is melted.
  10. Set the sandwich on a plate and top it with the sunny-side up eggs. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce and balsamic reduction. Enjoy! You've earned it.

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Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.