- 1 loaf unsliced challah, brioche or other rich bread
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 4 large eggs
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
- 1 teaspoon orange liqueur
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Cut bread into 1 1/2-inch thick, generous slices; a 9-inch loaf should yield 6 slices. Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, salt, liqueur, and vanilla extract. Arrange bread slices on the smallest rimmed tray that will fit them in one layer, and pour custard over slices. Let soak overnight if possible, or at least 30 minutes (flipping half way through if only 30 minutes)
Preheat oven to 325, Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a slim knife inserted into the center of a slice and twisted ever-so-slightly does not release any wet custard. Keep warm until ready to serve. Either sprinkle with sugar and place under the burner for 5-10 minutes (sugar will not caramelize but it’s easier and tasty) or make caramel topping:
Either leave toasts on their baking sheet, or transfer to a serving platter. Have ready a small offset spatula and a potholder or trivet to rest your caramel pot on.
Melt remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a small, heavy, completely dry saucepan over moderate heat, stirring with a small spoon or fork until fully melted and the color of honey. Move it over to the potholder or trivet you’d set up and working quickly, spoon one generous tablespoon caramel over your first slice of toast, spread it thinly and evenly with your offset spatula and repeat with the remaining toasts. Because your caramel will continue to deepen slightly in color (veering towards almost-too-toasty) as you work, it’s best to work quickly but carefully. Let no fingers or forearms be harmed in the melted sugar’s path and should a single drop land on the counter or on your towel or on the rim of the plate, do not swipe it. Just leave it until it cools.
From Smitten Kitchen