Christmas Breakfast in February

This year's loaf of pannetone (and only $5 at Trader Joe's)

Pannetone is a marvelous Christmas bread. Each year when December rolls around, I have to find one. This Italian holiday tradition pops up at most grocery stores and gourmet shops the last few months of the years and is pretty hard to find the rest of the year. If you’re as big as a fan as I am, it may warrant stocking up when you can.

The buttery, flaky bread is filled with all sorts of dried fruits. But this past year, for whatever reason, my beautiful Christmas loaf sat lonely until well after the holiday.

But lucky for me, it holds up for a few months. But what to do with this caloric-beast? I mean, it’s buttery and sweet enough as it is, and can be perfect just lightly toasted, but that just won’t do.

But dipping it in an egg and milk mixture, dusted with cinnamon then drowned in Michigan maple syrup, now thats a winner.

I think part of the reason for the delay with this brown bombshell was being out of town for so long over the holidays. It’s really the perfect addition to a Christmas morning tea under the tree. Alas, being out of town, I had to leave this poor guy sitting on my counter all alone. But after a nice, soothing dip into the pool of egg wash, this cake had the time of it’s life.

Sometimes simplicity is all you need. And this recipe can’t get much simpler. I started off by slicing wedges of the bred, about 1/2 of an inch thick. The first few slices are a bit tricky, but that just meant some scraps to snack on. In theory, after seeing the health contents, I probably didn’t need those snacks, but hey, you only live once.

Once the bread slices meet get your stamp of approval, heat your frying pan on medium-low heat. I’ve ruined too many otherwise prefect dishes before by not properly preheating, so don’t forget!

Now it’s time for a swim into the french toast batter. Any batter will do, but since the bread is so sweet, I’d recommend a fairly basic one without any added sweeteners. I just did a simple mixture of egg, milk and a dash of cream for richness. Then right before the bread’s about to take the plunge, add a couple of pinches of cinnamon for even more excitement.

Gently lay down your tasty little cushions into the pan and listen for that oh-so-dreamy initial sizzle.

The French toast's initial pan dance

Because of the flaky texture, the bread is fairly delicate, but absorbs the liquid rather well — much better than a lot of other bread’s I’ve used for french toast.

Once the sizzle slows and the top of the bread starts to come together (3-5 minutes) flip them on their backs and awe at their new golden shade. It’s almsot eating time!

After the first flip

Now wait another few minutes for the bottom to fully cook. I would be a hypocrite if I told you that you are only allowed to flip it once. I mean, it’s definitely preferable to only need one flip, and you should aspire to do so. I get kinda particular about the color of my French toast, so as much as I would like to just take it out of the pan, I almost always do a second flip for perfect color action. Are you cooler than me and able to reach perfection on first try?

Ok, so I finally get the color I’m looking for and it’s time to dig in! As I mentioned, this is very sweet, so tread cautiously into the topping zone. A dash of syrup is all I really like, but a bit of whipped cream or berries would likely be a good combo too.

I’m a bit of a maple syrup snob, so only Grade A Michigan amber sweetness touches my plate. I warmed up some milk for a chai tea latter, and ladies and gents, there you have your Christmas breakfast in February.

Pannetone French Toast with Michigan Maple Syrup

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