Sweet, luscious and the kind of dish you can assemble ahead of time, this deluxe version of French toast is equally fitting for a Mother’s Day brunch or as a warm dessert for a rainy spring day.
The recipe is adapted from one in Cafe Wisconsin Cookbook (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007), which I co-wrote with Indiana folklorist Joanne Raetz Stuttgen. We collected recipes from small-town diners—you know, the places that make the best breakfasts, daily specials and pies—and found this winner, contributed by Mike and Jan LeBrocq, at the Birchwood Cafe in Birchwood, Wisconsin. The LeBrocqs uses bananas in their creation, but this one features fresh-from-the-patch strawberries. Feel free to vary the recipe with other fruits, too.
It makes 4 large brunch servings or 6 to 8 dessert-size servings.
Mix batter ingredients in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate.
For the filling: Use a separate bowl to mix the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Gently fold in strawberries and maple syrup or orange liqueur.
Spread filling generously on four slices of the bread. Top each slice with another one, place sandwiches on large plate or tray, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until filling is firm, one hour or up to overnight.
Heat griddle or a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-low flame until hot. Add butter and swirl to coat the cooking surface. Dip French toast sandwiches in the batter to cover both sides then place them on the hot griddle. Cook slowly until golden brown on one side, then flip sandwiches and cook until the other side is golden brown and the filling is warm and creamy throughout. Serve with whipped cream. If you're making this for dessert, cut the sandwiches with a serrated knife into quarters just before serving.
Copyright by Terese Allen