Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baked orange French toast

The Stanley Ranch Cook Book is one my favorite sources for inspiration and recipes. It’s hosted by the Stanley Ranch in Fossil, Oregon. Many recipes seem to the contribution of the unnamed ranch cook. The cookbook, previously published in printed form, is now available on-line on the ranch website.

The recipe for baked orange French toast caught my eye while pursuing side dishes last week. This recipe is the contribution of by Marlene Stanley, who owns the ranch with husband her Rick. Once I prepared my rendition for camp in a Dutch oven, I discovered the subtle orange flavor throughout. It doesn't overwhelm. Instead, the orange juice and zest give the breakfast dish wonderful balance between traditional French toast and the orange flavor.

BAKED ORANGE FRENCH TOAST

Eliminate the pecans to make the recipe nut free. Marlene Stanley’s version called for 2/3-cup orange juice and 1/3-cup orange liqueur. Since I generally don’t purchase liqueurs, I used a full cup of juice. I’m certain the liqueur will give the French toast an even richer flavor.

12 ounces day old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup toasted pecan pieces (see recipe below)
6 large eggs
1 cup half and half
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter

Place bread cubes in a lightly greased 9- or 10-inch round cake pan. Spread pecans evenly over bread. Whisk eggs, half and half, orange juice, orange zest and sugar together in a medium bowl. Pour batter evenly over the bread. Push bread down into the batter.

Cover and place in refrigerator or ice cooler. Refrigerate at least four hours or overnight if being served for breakfast. In the morning, take the pan out of the refrigerator or ice cooler. Light 28 charcoal briquettes. Meanwhile, pour melted butter evenly over bread.

When coals are barely covered with ash, pre-heat a 12-inch Dutch oven with 8 coals underneath and 20 on the lid. (Alternatively, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.; bake in oven as directed.) Remove lid and place the pan inside the Dutch oven. Replace the lid and bake 40 minutes, until French toast is set and puffed up.

Remove pan from Dutch oven. Cool 10 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges. Offer 1 or 2 wedges to each person. Serve with syrup. Marlene Stanley recommends serving a sauce of melted butter and marmalade on the side.

TOASTED PECANS

Toasting brings out the wonderfully nutty flavor of the pecan. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell wonderfully nutty aroma of the nuts. Stop the cooking by placing the nuts in a small bowl.

1 cup chopped pecans (approximately 2-1/4 ounces)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Melt butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and toss to coat with butter. Toast, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not brown. Remove from heat and use as directed.

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