Friday, February 27, 2009

Brunch is Beautiful

Spring is just around the corner, which means its the perfect time to invite friends and family over for a weekend brunch. Somehow brunch seems lazily indulgent and conjures up thoughts of romantic B&B's and spring holiday celebrations. Here's the most indulgent recipe in my brunch repetoire - hope you enjoy!!

Baked French Toast with Bananas Foster
Serves 8 to 10.

½ Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter + more for baking dish
1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
2 Tbs. Corn Syrup
One 12” Loaf Sour Dough Bread, preferably day old
8 Large Eggs
1 ¼ Cups Half and Half
¾ Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tbs. Sugar
¼ tsp. Fresh Grated Nutmeg
½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp. Vanilla Paste or Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. Banana Liqueur
¼ tsp. Kosher Salt

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth. Pour into buttered baking dish.

Cut bread in ¾” thick slices from center portion of bread, reserving ends for another use. Trim crusts from slices. Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half, cream, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla paste, liqueur and salt until combined well. Pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover with pan with foil. Bake bread mixture, in middle of oven until puffed and just set, about 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue to cook for about ten minutes more, or until edges are light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven, let cool slightly. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Cut into squares, and remove to platter. Turn squares upside down, so caramel sauce is on top. Spoon Bananas Foster (recipe follows) over top and serve.

Bananas Foster

4 Firm Bananas, peeled
2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/8 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
½ Cup Dark Rum
1 Tbs. Banana Liqueur

Cut bananas into diagonal slices, about ¾” thick and about 2” long. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add in butter and swirl until melted and just begins to bubble along the edges. Place bananas in skillet and cook over medium heat for about five minutes. Turn bananas carefully, using a spatula and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or just until fork tender (do not overcook). Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over the top of the bananas. Transfer bananas to a warmed dish.

Remove pan from heat and pour in rum and banana liqueur. Return pan to heat and scrape caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan with the spatula. Using a long match or lighter, carefully ignite liqueur, swirl pan, then pour over bananas. Pour bananas over French toast squares and serve immediately.

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