Almond Ciabatta French Toast

By Gale Gand with Christie Matheson

At Osteria di Tramonto, the Italian restaurant I own with my partners, we serve ciabatta, an Italian bread that has nice big, open holes inside. It’s delicious fresh, but it really is not the same the next day . . . so, what to do with all the leftovers? We tried a bread pudding, but it was too firm for my taste. Then I tried making French toast with it—and it’s divine! It’s soft and tender from absorbing extra custard into all the spongy holes. Serve this with maple syrup or a dollop of ricotta cheese.

3 large eggs
2 pinches salt
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1¼ cups whole milk
¼ cup heavy cream
eight 1-inch slices round ciabatta
unsalted butter, for cooking
1 cup sliced almonds

Heat a griddle over medium‑low heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well. Whisk in the salt, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish. Working in batches if necessary, place the bread in the dish and let it soak for 3 minutes; then turn the slices over and soak on the other side.

Butter your griddle and let the butter bubble. Just before placing the soaked bread slices on the griddle, place almonds in a single layer (but fairly densely packed) on the griddle, forming an area the size and shape of a bread slice. Press one side of the bread into the almonds on the griddle, and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip the bread to the other side and cook until speckled golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe courtesy of Clarkson Potter/Publishers. To read the review for Gale Gand’s Brunch! please click here.