No matter the reason, this creme brulee French toast is perfect for a celebratory brunch! This unique stuffed french toast recipe is a great way to make someone (or someones) feel special.
I know “someones” is not a word, it fits in the sentence though, so it stays. Anyway, hello darlings! Is anyone feeling brunch-y today? I’m always in the mood for breakfast foods, and apparently today, also in the mood to make up words. So let’s chat about french toast!
It seems spring and french toast really go together for me. The last French toast recipe I posted was my lemon cheesecake French toast casserole – amazing by the way – and it was also last spring. So I suppose we have a tradition going, and it is not my place to break any tasty traditions involving brunch.
This is a stuffed French toast recipe because each prepared piece has a delicious pastry cream filling! We can’t have creme brulee without incorporating a little of the signature vanilla custard, can we?
How do I stuff French toast?
I remember years ago, when I first read about stuffed French toast, time was spent pondering this question.
The short answer is, there are two ways to do this – an easy one, and one that requires a little more work.
The first way to stuff French toast is by creating a pocket in your bread. This is a good method if you plan to stuff the toast with something like fruit that you can slide into the pocket. Use an unsliced loaf of bread, as you’ll need to cut each slice thick enough so it holds together after you carve a hole in the middle.
The second way, and the method I use for this recipe, is to create sandwiches. A store-bought pre-sliced brioche bread (or whatever you prefer) is perfect. This stuffed French toast method is perfect when using a spread-like filling that will hold the slices of bread together relatively easily.
Do I have to make pastry cream to make creme brulee French toast?
Pastry cream is an egg-thickened dessert used for filling pastries, like eclairs, cakes, etc. It’s different than traditional American pudding, which is thickened with cornstarch, not egg.
Making pastry cream takes little time, but if you’re short on time, you have some alternatives. At the grocery store, in the baking section, you can sometimes find instant pastry cream mix. Some stores will also sell prepared pastry cream with specialty foods. If it’s fresh, look in the refrigerated section. Or, head to where you find the prepared puddings (usually near dairy), and look for a vanilla custard. Since this isn’t spending a lot of time on heat, a vanilla pudding works in a pinch, too.
If you have the luxury of planning in advance, make your pastry cream up to 3 days ahead of time! It keeps well in the fridge and then you just pull it out when you’re ready.
A few recipe notes…
To get the best results in your French toast, you want to use slightly stale bread. The best way to make your bread stale is to leave it out overnight on a lined baking sheet as you can see in the video.
If you forgot to set it out the night before, or just didn’t have a chance to plan ahead, don’t fret! You may lightly toast the bread in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes. You don’t need it to be completely dry, but you do want to make sure it is dry enough to absorb the custard and some of the milk and egg wash without falling apart. Fresh bread can’t handle all that moisture.
Speaking of bread texture, the best bread to use is something with a nice tight crumb, like brioche or challah bread. Brioche bread is butter-based bread and challah is egg-based bread. Both have a slight natural sweetness and hold up well to moisture-rich dishes like bread pudding, casseroles, and French toast.
You may also feel free to scale this recipe as needed. As written, this recipe serves 4, with each person getting two triangles. To balance out the meal, I serve it with fresh fruit and maybe some hard-boiled eggs if I have any on hand. It’s a pretty filling dish though, so keep anything else on the simpler side. Leftovers do not keep particularly well since the sugar crust will lose its crunch.
Finally, I really really recommend a kitchen torch for this. I know it’s an extra gadget, but it’s so handy for bakers! Even if you aren’t really a baker it’s handy. S’mores craving? Carefully skewer a marshmallow and use your kitchen torch to toast. No mess, and instant gratification. Brilliant life hack right there, darlings.
Anyway, the kitchen torch is the best option for getting a good sugar crust on the creme brulee french toast. A broiler won’t work as well because your toast isn’t cold. You’re trying to make a sugar crust on an already hot item, so you need the really direct hot heat of a kitchen torch.
And with that, I think you’re ready to make your own super fancy dessert-inspired breakfast dish; or whenever a French toast craving strikes. Enjoy, my lovelies!
- 8 slices thick-cut brioche bread, slightly stale
- 1 cup pastry cream
- 1/2 cup milk (see notes)
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Arrange your sliced bread on a lined baking sheet. Spread pastry cream on 4 slices of the bread, using about 3-4 tablespoons per slice. Top with the remaining slices of bread to make "sandwiches". Set aside.
- In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.
- One at a time, dunk each sandwich into the egg wash for a few seconds per side. Don't soak or the bread will fall apart. Arrange the sandwiches in the skillet.
- Cook the french toast for 3-4 minutes per side until golden brown and warmed through. You should be able to use either a wide spatula or tongs to flip each piece of the stuffed french toast.
- Remove the cooked French toast from the skillet and place it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum or another food-safe flame-resistant surface.
- Cut each square in half, diagonally, to make triangles.
- Sprinkle each triangle of French toast with granulated sugar and then use your kitchen torch to melt the sugar and create the signature creme brulee crunchy crust.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!
- To make your bread slightly stale, leave it out overnight on a baking sheet. Or, you may toast it in a 250 F oven for 10 minutes to dry it out slightly.
- Save time in the morning by making your pastry cream in advance!
- Nondairy milk works just as well! If you are looking to make this recipe completely nondairy, please be sure to use non-dairy butter and a non-dairy pastry cream as well.
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