Christmas french toast with a fresh strawberry compote and maple syrup 

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For me, Panettone is one of those smells that instantly makes me think of Christmas. It's a sweet Italian bread that dates back to the 1500s and is used to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. Every Christmas I make my Pannatonne bread pudding (that recipe linked HERE) and because I love it so much, I decided to use it here in this ultimate Christmas morning breakfast - a panettone french toast. It is already loaded with so much flavour, spices, fruit and citrus, so it's the perfect beginning to create something amazing. I used the little individual panettone, but feel free to use a large loaf. Alternatively, if you can not find panettone, brioche or Challah is good. You want to use bread that has an enriched dough base, using eggs, butter or both for maximum flavour. Once it's sliced up I dip it in an eggy mixture using Otaika Valley eggs (their Christmas packaging is always so pretty!), spices and vanilla. I've paired it with a fresh strawberry compote and maple. The compote is less sweet than jam, my one is still a little tart so that you can have that maple with it, and has lots of chunky bits of fruit in it. The perfect way to get Christmas morning started! 
 


Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 25 minutes 


For the compote 

450g strawberries 
1/4 cup orange juice 
2 tablespoons sugar 
1 tablespoon cornflour 


For the french toast 

6 Otaika Valley free-range eggs
1 cup milk 
1/2 cup cream 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon mixed spice 

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 

Finely grated zest of 1 orange
Neutral flavoured oil + butter for cooking 

To serve 
Pure maple syrup 
Icing sugar (optional) 

Note: This compote can be made in advance if kept in the fridge. For the compote, wash and hull the strawberries, leaving smaller ones whole, cutting medium ones in half and larger ones into 3rds or quarters - a compote should have nice chunky bits of fruit. Add these to a pot with the orange juice and sugar and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 6-8minutes or until the fruit is soft but still holding its shape. At this stage, taste the compote and check sweetness. I left mine so it wasn't so sweet, so we could add maple syrup, but if you want it a little sweet just add some more sugar to taste and stir until it is dissolved. To thicken the compote, mix 1 tablespoon of cornflower with 1 tablespoon of cold water, add this to the pot and cook for 30 seconds while stirring. Remove the compote from the heat, set aside and cool completely. 

For the french toast, pre-heat the oven to around 120C. Then to prepare the bread, cut the very outer edges off the panettone, just so more of the eggy mixture can get in, then slice into 2.5cm thick pieces and set them aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, vanilla and orange zest. Put a cast-iron skillet or hot pate on to heat, on medium-high heat. While the pan is coming up to heat, dunk the panettone into the eggy mixture so it is well covered. Don't leave it in too long, as I found if I did this, the bread started to break. Once the pan is hot, reduce to medium heat, and add a drizzle of neutral flavoured oil and a knob of butter - you want the butter for flavour, and the oil to stop the butter from burning. Cook the french toast for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, and keep these warm in the preheated oven while you finish the remaining pieces. 

To serve, have a few pieces of the reach toast with the strawberry compote, maple syrup and if you want, a dusting of icing sugar. I use my tea strainer as an icing sugar duster. Enjoy! 

 

 

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