02 September 2008

The Pleasure Principle

The Tuesday after Labor Day seems particularly cruel, doesn't it? No more languorous, softly twilit nights; no more white dresses and shoes; and no more sleeping in for three days in a row.

And as for those leisurely breakfasts in your bathing suit, forget it.

If you're having trouble letting go, perhaps you should treat yourself to get through the week- or at least, to stay awake. Even black tea has only about half the caffeine level of an equal amount of coffee, so why not combine the two into a simple, seductive breakfast?

Bien sur, it's just French toast, but it's better than you've ever had it before.

Cafe au Lait Pain Perdu (adapted from Gourmet, December 2007)
Makes: 6 servings.

Butter, for greasing the pan
12 1-inch-thick day-old baguette slices
3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder or finely ground coffee
2 tablespoons hot water
3 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
Cinnamon, for garnish

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees and butter a shallow 13 x 9-inch baking dish with butter.

2. Arrange bread in single layer in dish. In a large bowl, dissolve espresso powder in the hot water. Whisk in milk, eggs, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar until smooth.

3. Gently pour egg mixture over the bread and turn slices several times to soak up liquid. Sprinkle top with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

5. Bake until puffed and set, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then dust with cinnamon and serve.

Black tea would be overkill with all these strong flavors, so I paired it with a crisp, clean Umegashima sencha, one of my favorite Japanese greens. And while this may seem like a lot of work for a bleary-eyed morning, it does reheat beautifully, so you can have it for breakfast all week unless you feel like sharing.

I bet you could even make it with matcha instead of the espresso powder, but I'll need to finish this batch up before I try that version.

And maybe it's just the cafe au lait talking, but I plan on wearing white all week.


Teep said...

I will join you - with at least 1 piece of white clothing all week. starting today with *white pants* damn it.

ps: french toast is the most.

ana dane said...

just watch out for that maple syrup.

Dave's Blog said...

Now you are talking Breakfast!!!

Camille said...

Thank you for visiting my blog! The french toast looks really yummy. And, I love your skirt. Very pretty. Summer was just too short for me. I'm still wearing white.

Tartelette said...

I bet it would be delightful with matcha tea although there is nothing wrong with these :)

Anonymous said...

Is the pain perdu cuz it's buried alive?

Penelope said...

My girlfriend and I made this French toast for breakfast today in my electric oven of doom (which cooks only on broil). Despite the oven of doom's attempt to ruin this toast of salvation, C and I enjoyed this with homemade maple syrup, local Louisiana butter, and of course, we made it with Mellow Joy coffee and drank café au lait with it.