Quince French Toast

Kirstin, It's Not You, It's Brie

I used to work at a restaurant known for its brunch, and every Sunday for months, I was in charge of its French toast. Crispy on the outside and soft and almost custard-like in the center, this was French toast, bread-pudding style. It flew off the menu.

Sweet, rich, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon and stuffed with fruit, this French toast sold itself. Instead of stuffing this with fresh fruit, I use membrillo, otherwise known as quince paste. Easily found in Latino markets and high-end cheese shops, membrillo is a slice-able preserve made from the high-pectin quince fruit popular in South America and Europe.

Its lightly tart and sweet, almost perfumed flavor contrasts nicely with the French toast’s custard-like bread base. Pick a sturdy, thick, bread for this (day-old is fine) like a rustic loaf or sweet batard, and follow the recipe closely- the bread really does want to be soaked for that long, and the butter browns nicely in the toast’s final cooking in the oven. Finally, these are big portions, so if serving for light eaters, consider sharing with more than four people.

Quince French Toast
Serves 4-6
By Kirstin

Ingredients:

4 eggs
1 1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
1pinch freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 slices of bread, cut into 1 ½ inch slices
4 ounces membrillo 4 tablespoons salted butter
Powdered sugar optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F°.

Whisk eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, spices and vanilla in large bowl.

Lay bread slices flat on cutting board and cut each slice horizontally about three-quarters of the way through. Slice quince paste horizontally into eight slim pieces that will stuff into bread pockets. Set the membrillo aside.

Whisk egg mixture well once more, and pour into large baking dish. Snuggle bread slices into egg mixture. Use plate to weigh down bread if bread starts to float. Soak the bread for fifteen minutes on each side. Once soaked, remove the bread, place on plate and stuff bread pockets with membrillo.

Heat sturdy, large, oven-safe sauté pan to medium. Melt three tablespoons butter in hot pan, and carefully add stuffed bread slices. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until lightly golden. Once bread is lightly golden, add remaining butter to the pan, and transfer to oven. Cook for 12-17 minutes, until the bread is lightly bouncy, and when you peak inside the bread-quince pocket, the egg looks a little shiny, but not wet.

Top with powdered sugar and serve.

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