Freeport Bakery makes a beautiful, dense challah. This past weekend, as we were purchasing a mixed berry pie and a brownie at this popular Freeport Boulevard spot, I couldn’t resist taking home a loaf of the challah as well—it was so pretty and shiny. With no prior plans for the braided loaf of bread, we decided to transform it into an impromptu buttermilk French bread for brunch the following morning—and it was fabulous.
Buttermilk Challah French Toast
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
5 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon finely grated orange or lemon zest
1” thick slices challah from one loaf (don’t include end slices)
Unsalted butter for cooking the French toast
Whisk together buttermilk, eggs, extracts, sugar, salt and zest in a bowl. Pour into a large 4-sided sheet pan, then add bread slices in 1 layer and soak, turning occasionally, until bread has absorbed all the liquid but is not falling apart, about 20 minutes.
Heat butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Transfer bread slices with a slotted spatula (or your hand!) to skillet and cook, turning once, until slightly puffed and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes total. Transfer to a baking pan and keep warm in 200-degree oven. Cook remaining bread in additional batches, adding butter between batches.
Accompany with warm maple syrup