The French name for french toast is pain perdu – "lost bread". That's because slightly stale bread is perfect for this dish, soaking up the custard for a creamy, silken centre.
¼ cup sugar
1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)
¾ cup milk
3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
pinch of salt
4 slices stale white bread, 2½cm thick
2 tbsp butter
icing sugar, to serve
bitter marmalade, to serve
vanilla ice-cream, to serve
1. Heat the sugar in a small saucepan, swirling occasionally, until it forms a dark caramel. Add ¼ cup of water and whisk over medium heat until the caramel is dissolved. Add the Grand Marnier, if using, and allow to cool slightly. Pour in the milk and then whisk in the eggs, egg yolks and salt until smooth. Strain the caramel mixture into a tray and add the bread. Lightly press down the bread slices a few times and allow them to spring back to suck up the custard like a sponge. Soak for 30 minutes, turning and lightly pressing again halfway through.
2. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add half the butter. Remove the bread from the tray and let any excess drip away. Fry two slices of toast on medium heat for about 2½ minutes per side. Repeat for the remaining slices.
3. Dust the slices with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of marmalade and a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
Adam's tip The secret to good French toast is treating the bread like a sponge for the rich custard. The key is not cutting the bread too thick or thin – about 2½cm is perfect. Give it a slight squeeze as you put it into the custard and let it soak.
If you like this recipe, try Adam Liaw's Chicken Veloute Stew