Wednesday, October 26, 2011

[Y Kant Nikki Cook] Cider Mill French Toast

All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.
I got inspired while making trips to various cider mills over the last week, so I thought that "Cider Mill French Toast" might be fun. The basic idea was to take stale plain fried doughnuts, soak them in cinnamon custard, prepare them like French toast, then top them with a cider caramel sauce. I decided to make ALL of this myself, because that's sort of the point right? This resulting recipe is sort of a Frankenstein of various other recipes I found that sort of  did what I wanted. I adjusted quantities and tweaked some ingredients to the flavors I wanted.

Cider Mill French Toast
Need: One dozen stale plain fried doughnuts and 1/2 stick unsalted butter.

Cider caramel sauce

4 cups apple cider
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1. Pour cider in heavy large skillet. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Boil cider mixture until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes.
2. Add sugar and butter. Cook until sauce thickens slightly and is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes longer.
3. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill. Remove vanilla bean before using.

This can be made up to three days in advance.

Custard sauce

4 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar
3 beaten eggs
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cinnamon stick

1. In a heavy saucepan over low heat, cook and stir milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean (with the seeds scraped out and added to milk) and sugar until sugar is dissolved.
2. Stir in a small amount of hot milk mixture into eggs (throwing the eggs directly into the hot pan without mixing a little hot milk in first will cause them to scramble and separate); pour egg mixture slowly into pan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. (Dip the spoon in the pan; it should come out with a thin film, solid enough to run your finger across the back of the spoon and leave a mark.)

2. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, stirring several times so that the bottom does not continue to cook at a higher temperature.
3. In a deep pan, spread out the stale doughnuts. Pour the custard over the doughnuts and let sit for at least 30 minutes on each side. Transfer the rest of custard to a bowl; press a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on top of custard. Refrigerate.

And now, it's time to make French toast!

1. Turn burner on to medium heat and coat skillet with butter. Once pan is heated and butter is melted, add four doughnuts to the pan. Cook until both sides are browned (flip a few times to ensure even cooking). There should be no more visible liquid custard on the outside of the doughnuts. Cook remainder of doughnuts (add more butter as needed).
2. To serve, put doughnuts on a plate, pour some of the chilled custard over top, then finish with some cider caramel (heat before serving if you so desire). No syrup needed for this French toast!

I really wish someone would have told me it would take 8 days of nonstop stirring to make custard. So during attempt the first I got really bored then really impatient, so I cranked the heat up to a medium setting and walked away. I came back to find my "custard" foaming and curdled. (Actually, I think "curdled" might not be the best word: I do believe the eggs were actually going through the process of scrambling.) So with attempt the second, I kept it on low heat and patiently stirred occasionally, waiting for that magic "coat the spoon" moment.

It took two hours.*

Of course, nowhere on any of the recipe sites did it SAY it would take two hours (that I saw, or paid attention to, anyway - and by GOD did I try desperately to find out about an hour into attempt the second).

This is why I don't cook.

*Actually I'm not even totally sure how long it took, as I eventually decided I really couldn't afford to sacrifice any more of my day on this and since I'm only using the custard to soak the doughnuts in anyway, that it was simply done enough. As the custard sat it did thicken to "coat the spoon" desirability.