It's hard to convey how good this is. I sprinkled demerara sugar on the bread just before frying it, resulting in this amazing caramelised crust, while the inside of the bread stays gooey from the egg. The almond extract isn't too overpowering, but works so well with the sweet, tart fruit, soft enough to squish onto each mouthful of bread as you eat it. Even better, the bread soaks up all the fragrant juices from the apricots. I'm glad I used wholemeal; it has much more depth of flavour and also a bit more texture, somehow, than white, so is better for standing up to the apricots and almond. I genuinely can't think of a better brunch.
Lord knows why I'm writing this on an empty stomach. I'm such a masochist.
Apricot and almond French toast (serves 2):
- 6 large apricots (you could also use peaches), halved
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp orange flower water
- 4 thick slices wholemeal bread, cut from an unsliced loaf and left out overnight to harden
- 2 eggs
- 200ml whole milk
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- A knob of butter
- Icing sugar, for dusting
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place the apricots on a large sheet of foil, and bring the sides up to form a parcel. Drizzle over the honey and flower water, then seal the parcel and place on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for about half an hour, or until the apricots are soft and fragrant. Check them halfway through - you don't want them to collapse into mush - just remember to re-seal the parcel.
When the apricots are nearly done, whisk the eggs, milk and almond extract together in a baking dish. Lay the slices of bread in the mixture for 5-10 minutes, then flip over. You want them to have absorbed most of the milk. Make sure there are no dry patches by pressing it down into the milk.
Heat the butter in a frying pan until foaming. Sprinkle the bread slices with the demerara sugar then place, sugar-side down, in the butter - you may need to do this in batches. It should sizzle. While that side is cooking, sprinkle sugar on the other side. Cook for about 4 minutes before flipping over and cooking the other side. You should have a crunchy, caramelised crust and a soft interior (the toast, I mean - not you yourself).
Remove the apricots from the oven and turn it down to 90C or so. Keep the cooked toast in the oven to keep it warm while you make the second batch. I find this helps to remove any excess moisture as well, so you could always put both batches in there to cook through when you're done.
Sprinkle the French toast with icing sugar and serve with the cooked apricots and a drizzle of their juice. A scattering of toasted almonds would be good too.