2/19/2014

vegan french toast

Yum

Alright, you guys: let's hear it. Valentine's Day is only ever the best or the worst and never anything in between, am I right? There are the lovers (yes, quite literally) annnd the haters, and I guess if I have to pick a side, you'll find me donned in pink and red. Maybe even Cupid-like wings, who knows. Simply stated, I believe love is worth celebrating, no matter where you find it.



Since this could easily turn into a debate for the ages, let's move on to something we can all agree on: breakfast, of the French toast variety. YUM. Now, French toast has been a bit of a challenge in our household as of late. Seeing is how cute Colin has abandoned all dairy (which really just involves me cooking a dairy-free meal for both of us, serving his plate and then topping my own with, say, cheese), that removes the two traditional ingredients needed in order to prepare French toast: eggs and milk. Bummer. What to do? Giving up this particular breakfast item clearly not being an option and having had one tried-but-failed attempt to recreate the magic using only non-dairy milk as the custard base that resulted in a sad, soggy mess, I took to the trusty internet to find my answer.



The internet hardly ever fails us. It's true. Say what you will, but I have been able to Google almost anything and at least, even if I don't happen upon an answer, I am able to discover that someone else was wondering the same exact weird thing. And as it turns out, lots of people were on the hunt for a vegan French toast recipe that was sneakily vegan. You know what I mean; no weird flavors, no obvious missing notes. Vegan French toast that will make people say, "Wait, there's no egg in this? Seriously?" Seriously.

The inspiration I decided to draw from comes from Love & Lemons, another food blog I find myself frequenting on the regular. For this adapted recipe, you will need:

Some stale or day old bread (we went with a crusty whole wheat round)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons rice flour (though any other flour can also work)
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (I've been wary of this stuff, I admit it. It definitely has a funky smell, but if you can get past that part, trust me, for this it's worth it.)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Some freshly grated nutmeg
Coconut oil for the pan

In a medium bowl, whisk together your coconut and almond milk, maple syrup, rice flour, yeast and spices. As I mentioned above, the nutritional yeast (most easily found in the dry bulk goods at your local grocery store) smells ... odd. But it's the key ingredient here to creating that faux-eggy (exactly) texture that French toast is all about. So stick with me here. It will be amazingly worth it in the end. 


If your bread isn't quite stale enough, giving it a quick toast to create some crustiness will do the trick. AND, if it is Valentine's Day or your are feeling particularly lovey-dovey, you might take this moment to cookie-cutter some of said bread into heart shapes. You know, for additional cuteness. 


Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat (any skillet will work, but the cast iron lends a nice crisp edge to your toast). Coat evenly with coconut oil, which is also great for creating crispness. Dip your bread in your mixture as you would for an ordinary French toast recipe and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden and crunchy on the outside. (While you repeat these steps with your remaining bread, a great way to add a little additional flavor to traditional maple syrup: add about 1/4 cup fresh or frozen berries to a microwave safe bowl. Add 1/4 cup pure maple syrup and heat for 1-2 minute or until berries are thawed or broken down. Stir to combine.)


Once all of your bread has been fully French-toast-transformed, serve with berry syrup or topping of your choice. I admit, I was seriously surprised by the outcome. I thought it would be good, but surely had no shot of tasting like the real deal. Well, consider me humbled and completely incorrect: it did. I mean, who knows what else we can do by omitting the eggs? If we can still pull off things like magical French toast and chocolate chip cookies, will this become a dairy-free household in the end? 

No way: Cheese, people. Cheese.