French toast is one of those dishes everyone should master for, say, a brunch when you want to cook for a crowd or a decadent breakfast-in-bed for Valentine's Day. But, you won't find us making like a short-order cook and making serving after serving and missing out on all the fun, which is why we bake our French Toast. And, if it's Valentine's Day you're planning for, this is the recipe because you could prepare it all the night before and then just pop it in the oven come the morning so that it’s on the table by the time you’ve finished your first cup of coffee.
ends trimmed and rest cut into 1-inch slices
or cooking spray
Trim ends from bread (eat while preparing the rest of the recipe or reserve for another use) then cut the rest of the baguette into 1-inch thick slices (you should have about 14 to 16 pieces). For the best texture you want the bread slightly dry or stale, so, either loosely cover the slices and let sit out on your counter overnight or toast them briefly until they’re dry but not browned. Arrange bread in one layer in a 13-by 9-inch (about 3 quart) baking dish.
Whisk together eggs, egg whites, almond milk, extracts, salt, and 4 tablespoons of the sugar until eggs are broken up. Pour over bread and let soak, turning halfway through, until bread is thoroughly moistened and has absorbed most of the custard, at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours (cover and place in refrigerator if soaking more than 1 hour).
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange rack in the upper third; set French toast at room temperature while oven heats up. Spread the softened butter on a rimmed baking sheet or, if dairy-free, spray with a nonstick cooking spray.
Place almonds in a flat, shallow dish then coat one side with almonds as follows: remove a piece of French toast, let excess liquid drip off, then place bread in almond dish and press to help almonds adhere. Place bread, almond-side up on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining bread.
Sprinkle tops of French toast with remaining 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Bake until bread is slightly puffed and underside is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately with syrup passed on the side.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp