French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods. Not only is it delicious, but there are an almost endless number of variations that you can put on the basic combination of eggs, milk and bread. This Lemon Vanilla French Toast is designed with springtime brunches in mind. It has just the right hint of citrus and vanilla that makes each bite feel just a little bit more indulgent than your average french toast recipe.
The batter for this french toast starts off very simply, with milk and eggs. A generous amount of lemon zest and a splash of vanilla extract are added to the mix. The zest is the colorful outer part of the peel of a citrus fruit and it is packed with flavorful oils, so you get a lot of lemon flavor from it. You don’t want to add lemon juice directly to the milk mixture because it could cause the milk to curdle, taking away from the texture of the dish. If you let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes after whisking it up, you’ll give the milk a chance to pick up more of the oils from the zest.
French toast batter isn’t always sweetened, since the toast is typically served with syrup or confectioners’ sugar to sweeten it up once its on your plate. I added a touch of maple syrup to the mix here, as the extra sweetness helps to bring out the flavor of the lemon. Even though not much is added, you might find that you don’t need to pour any additional maple syrup on top when you’re serving – especially if you’re going to top your toast with berries. That said, I went for a little more maple syrup and a sprinkle of extra lemon zest.
The flavors here are added very simply and you could easily change up the citrus by substituting orange zest or lime zest for the lemon. Orange zest might be a nice alternative if you warm up a little bit of jam or marmalade to serve with your french toast. If opting for lime, a sprinkle of toasted coconut or some tropical fruit would be a nice garnish. I used a white sandwich bread, however almost any kind of bread can be used. Breads with a milder flavor – i.e. not whole grain breads – will work best because they don’t bring in too many additional flavors to compete with the lemon and vanilla.
Lemon Vanilla French Toast
1 cup milk (any kind)
4 large eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon zest
8 slices bread (approx)
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth. Pour into a large, shallow dish such as a pie plate.
Heat nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat.
Place a slice of bread into the milk mixture and soak it for approx 2-3 seconds per side (slightly longer if the bread is thicker than average sandwich bread), using a fork to perforate the bread to encourage it to soak up the mixture, if necessary. Place bread on preheated griddle or skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until golden. Flip french toast and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, then repeat with remaining bread.