Seldom a week went by when brothers Evan and Ari Bloom did not eat French toast as children. Their mother turned challah bread into sweet, eggy glory, with just a hint of cinnamon. It was a family favorite.
Fast forward a couple of decades and the brothers are now the owners — along with Leo Beckerman — of San Francisco’s celebrated Wise Sons Jewish Delicatessen. The company strives to build community through their Jewish comfort food, all made from scratch. Their beef is hormone free, their organic rye bread is double-baked daily, and their bagels are authentic, right down to a burbling boil in malt-infused water.
The Blooms’ Challah French Toast recipe, Evan says, “is based on the recipe our mother made for us at least once per week growing up. Challah is great for French toast since it’s already rich, and a bit sweet. Because it has a fair amount of fat in it, it also holds up well to a long custard soak, while still being soft and fluffy.”
There are a few tricks, too: “Buttermilk gives this a little bit of a back note of acidity and cuts the richness. We don’t add any sugar — though you could — as our challah is already pretty sweet and the syrup and fruit add further sweetness. Challah that is day-old is preferred. (It) will do a better job of soaking up the custard and make for better structural integrity.”
Challah French Toast
Serves 2 to 4
4 thick slices of day-old challah, sliced about 1-inch thick
6 large eggs
¼ cup buttermilk
¼ cup whole milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or more to taste
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil, for cooking
- Set challah in a single layer in a shallow baking pan or flat-bottomed bowl.
- Make the custard mixture: Crack the eggs into a medium bowl, then add the buttermilk, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and pinch of salt. Whisk briskly until mixture is well combined and fluffy.
Pour custard mixture over the challah and let it sit for 6 to 8 minutes, gently turning halfway through.
- Heat a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add half the butter or oil to the pan, turning to coat the pan bottom, then carefully add 2 slices of French toast. Cook for 5 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook 4 to 5 minutes on the other side until cooked through. Repeat with remaining bread. Serve with real maple syrup, butter and fresh fruit.