Last weekend I spent roughly an hour rummaging around looking for one of my old mainstay recipes. I couldn’t find it because it was written either on a scrap of paper or on the inside cover of a lyric book I used for my band that sadly hasn’t been touched in close to 2 years. This recipe originally appeared in the Bark & Grass Vegan Cookbook (cook zine really…) by Kim Nolan, that was printed in the early 90’s. For some reason, I think I bought it at the 1992 More Than Music Festival in Dayton, OH. I carried this zine with me from Buffalo to Baltimore to D.C., back to Buffalo and finally to Chicago. Over time it became increasingly tattered and it finally met the trash can when a very young, Ian Mackaynine, ravaged all of the books on the lower shelves of my bookshelf the first time he was ever left alone overnight…needless to say, Bark and Grass was among them. The zine was reprinted here and there, but hasn’t been in print for years, so I only have 2 of the recipes still within my possession: French Toast and Pancakes. Okay, story time is over so let’s make some French Toast!
3 Tbs Flour
2 Tsp Sweetener
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Soy or Almond Milk
1/4 Cup Water
Grab a shallow bowl wide enough to accept a piece of bread horizontally. Mix up the dry ingredients. I’ve used a variety of dry sweeteners over the years – cheapo sugar, sucanat, and Vegan Cane Sugar from Whole Foods. It all works the same but we prefer the Vegan Cane Sugar from Whole Foods because its clearly marked.
Then add your wet ingredients. I can’t remember if the original recipe from Bark and Grass used the mix of water and soy milk that I listed, as my only existing version of the recipe is hand written and I know that using all “milk” makes the batter a bit thicker and thus, doesn’t cover as many pieces of bread. The days of clinging to soy milk for every recipe have also passed (which is what the original recipe used), so the French Toast pictured used plain almond milk because that’s what we prefer.
Mix up the batter and heat up the pan on low-medium heat and melt some margarine on the pan.
Let’s take a moment to talk about vegan bread. Most cities have some local bakery that provides fresh Italian and/or sour dough bread to local businesses. This isn’t usually “top of the line” bakery bread, but its fresh and not full of all sorts of crappy processed food ingredients. Instead its your typical: flour, water, salt, yeast sort of bread. This stuff is ideal for French Toast. Since you’re essentially burying most of the original bread’s flavor in sugar and cinnamon, there is no reason to use the best vegan organic bread that money can buy. So feel free to use the slightly cheaper vegan bread or even stale bread for this dish.
Bread tirades aside, dip your bread in the batter coating both sides. Don’t soak it all the way through or you’ll end up with soggy French Toast. Just make sure the entire surface of both sides is coated. Toss each piece in the pan and cook until browned and dry on each side.
Finally, when you get down to the bottom of the batter, you’ll find that all of the liquid is gone, but there is still a bunch of the flour/sugar/cinnamon. Don’t let that go to waste. Pour another tablespoon or two of almond milk into it and you can squeeze out another 1 or 2 pieces from it.
All told, you should expect to make 6-10 pieces of French Toast with this recipe depending on the size of the bread.