This is an Italian twist on a French dish originally designed to make use of pain perdu, or stale bread. For this recipe I use a baguette, which when sliced into rounds and sealed in a ziplock bag is space-saving and holds its shape; it’s also the best bread for absorbing the egg batter.
Mascarpone, a signature ingredient in tiramisu, is a rich, creamy, spreadable cheese; bring extra for slathering on toasted bread with a drizzle of honey. Surplus baguette slices can be saved for pairing with dips and cheese at happy hour.
Makes 4 servings
- 1/2 cup mascarpone
- 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 pinches grated nutmeg
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
- 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sliced fresh strawberries
Prep: In a food processor or in a bowl with a whisk, combine the mascarpone, coffee, honey, and 1 pinch of the nutmeg and process or beat until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container, seal, and then chill for up to 1 week.
In a lidded jar, combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1 pinch nutmeg. Seal the jar tightly, shake vigorously until the custard is yellow and the yolks are incorporated, 10 seconds, and then chill for up to 24 hours.
Cook: Place the baguette slices on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the egg custard over them. Use tongs to flip the slices and slather both sides with the custard. Let stand for 5 minutes to absorb the custard. Gently squeeze the slices with the tongs and flip them again to allow the bread to absorb more of the custard. Let stand for another 5 minutes.
In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large sauté pan over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Once the butter begins to foam (before it browns!), add as many baguette slices as can fit in a single layer and pour any remaining custard over the top. Cover the pan and cook until crispy and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Flip the slices with tongs or a spatula and cook, uncovered, until the other side is crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining baguette slices, melting 1 tablespoon butter in the pan between batches.
Serve warm directly from the pan as you finish each batch, or transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Place three slices of French toast on each camper’s plate and top with a generous dollop of the mascarpone, which will melt like syrup. Using a fine-mesh strainer, generously dust each serving with cocoa powder and scatter the strawberries over the top. Tell your fellow campers to eat up; leftovers don’t keep well.
All recipes reprinted with permission from “Feast by Firelight” by Emma Frisch. Text and illustrations copyright Emma Frisch. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright 2018 by Christina Holmes.