At Osteria di Tramonto, the Italian restaurant I owned with my partners we always had table bread left over at the end of the night. We served ciabatta, which is an Italian bread made with lots of water. The dough is so wet that it practically drips out of your hands when you’re moving it from the work table to the sheet pan. This makes for nice big, open holes inside. It’s delicious fresh, but is really not the same the next day…so, what to do with all the leftovers? We tried a bread pudding but it was too firm for my taste. Then I tried making French toast with it and it’s divine! It’s soft and tender from soaking in extra custard into all the spongy holes. Serve this with maple syrup or a dollop of ricotta cheese.
2 pinches salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ almond extract
1¼ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
Eight 1-inch slices ciabatta
1 cup sliced almonds
Makes 4 to 6 servings
Heat a griddle to medium low heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well. Whisk in the salt, sugar, vanilla, almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk and the cream. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish. Working in batches if necessary, place the bread in the dish and let soak for 3 minutes, then turn and soak on the other side.
Place the almonds in a shallow bowl big enough to fit the bread slices. Butter your griddle and let the butter bubble. Just before placing the soaked bread slices on the griddle, press one side of the bread into the almonds then quickly slap it on the griddle, almond side down. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes, then flip to the other side and cook until speckled golden brown. Serve hot.