I make this french toast for Easter brunch year after year.


The first time I ate crème brûlée French toast was at a family friend's house, and I remember thinking it must be illegal because of how delicious it was. Thick slices of bread are baked until creamy and custardy in the middle, topped with a golden layer of crunchy caramelized sugar. Talk about dessert for breakfast!

When it comes to hosting brunch—whether it's a casual weekend get-together, a family get-together, or an Easter brunch—my favorite part is always dreaming up a sweet treat, and this Creme Brulee French Toast is one of my go-to recipes. is one of the. It always impresses and is absolutely delicious.

This French toast, courtesy of Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen, is surprisingly easy to make in a very short amount of time. You won't even need a blowtorch. When you're done, you'll have custardy slices of toast under a lid of caramelized sugar just waiting to be crumbled.

Just Recipes / Erica Kiwi

How I Make Smitten Kitchen's Crème Brûlée French Toast

Start by cutting your bread (preferably brioche or challah) into six thick slices, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Don't skimp on the thickness here, as the generous height is part of the charm and allows for a deep custardy interior.

For the custard, I mix milk, heavy cream, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla. I usually use vanilla extract or paste instead of vanilla bean, and I skip the Grand Marnier in favor of 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest.

Depending on the size of my loaf, I use a 9×13-inch baking dish or half-sheet pan to arrange the bread slices in a single layer and pour the custard over them. You may be confused by how much custard this recipe makes for just six thick slices, but I promise the bread will absorb it all! Halfway through soaking, flip the bread slices over to absorb.

Although I like the makeup option of letting the bread sit in the custard overnight, I usually assemble it the day of since it only takes about 30 minutes to soak in the custard.

Transfer the soaked bread slices to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in a 325°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through.

A few minutes before you're ready to serve, spread 2/3 cup granulated sugar in an even layer in a clean, dry saucepan. Let the sugar cook undisturbed over medium heat until it has mostly melted before stirring in any remaining dry sugar from the edges.

As soon as all the sugar has melted and the color of the honey has turned, drop a heaping spoonful of the caramel onto each piece as quickly as possible and spread it evenly with an offset spatula before it sets.

Just Recipes / Erica Kiwi

Variations of the recipe I have tried.

I like to serve this recipe with fresh berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. I've tried building it a few different ways and have confirmed that the following variations work:

  • Use whole milk: I recommend following the original recipe for best results, but in a pinch, you can substitute the heavy cream and milk mixture for all the milk. It won't be as rich or decadent.
  • Use the broiler: If you don't want to bother making the caramel, you can sprinkle a generous layer of sugar over the baked toasts and place them under your broiler until the caramel is done. Keep a close eye on the toasts while broiling – this method isn't perfect because if your toasts aren't even, you can end up with spots of burnt sugar and spots of unmelted sugar.


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