Do you have a favourite recipe that brings back childhood memories? One of mine is French toast! Crisp crunchy cinnamon toasted bread with a soft fluffy middle smothered in sticky syrup. This recipe is a healthier twist on this indulgent and comforting classic (my mum used to deep fry ours and coat it in Golden syrup!).
So how do you make French toast healthier? By using non-refined coconut sugar as the sweetener, omitting the eggs and using plant milk and adding chia or flaxseed to thicken up the batter. By using a non-stick frying pan, you avoid deep-frying too!
Do you want your French toast to be crispy in the middle as well as the sides? There are many tips on how to do this. You can achieve all over crispiness by using a little cornstarch in the batter or by toasting the bread beforehand in a regular toaster.
It also helps to use a hardy loaf, like stale sourdough, ciabatta or boulé to avoid over-sogginess! I wouldn’t recommend regular sandwich bread, as this tends to turn to mush! I have even tried this recipe out on cinnamon bagels (it works!); you just have to cook them for a bit longer! If you like the eggy flavour of French toast, you can always add a little kala namak too.
Another tip is to only dip the bread briefly in the batter mix (like a second or two), or use a pastry brush to apply, and do not allow the bread soak. It also helps to have a really hot non-stick frying pan to start off with and to use fresh oil (coconut oil or vegan butter), between cooking each batch.
If the crust is browning too quickly, lower the heat and reduce to a low heat and just cook your toast for longer but on a gentle heat. For aficionados out there, you can also pop the toasts in the oven for 5-10 mins at a low heat, just to drive off the excess moisture to ensure they are extra crispy.
This is a recipe for pumpkin spice vegan French toast, to celebrate autumn. Of course, this can be substituted for just spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom (I will provide measurements for all in the recipe below).
Depending on my training needs, I sometimes add some protein powder in the batter (pea and soya bean being my favourites). This might result in a slightly thicker batter, in which case, just add a splash extra of milk.
Preparation time: 25-30 mins
- 220ml milk of choice (plus an extra tablespoon or two if using protein powder)
- 2 tsp. chia seeds (ground or unground) or ground flaxseeds
- 1 tsp. cornstarch (optional; this helps form a light crispy coating on the toast)
- 1 tbsp. protein powder (optional)
- 1tsp. coconut sugar
- 0.5 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 tsp. pumpkin spice or ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/8t sp. Vitalising Superpowder for a turmeric kick (optional)
- With honey (non-vegan), syrup, maple syrup. Sweet Freedom make a range of delicious syrups, like caramel Syrup, that are worth trying.
- Seasonal fruit and berries. Dried goldenberries. hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds.
4 slices of bread. This recipe works best with a stale hardy loaf.
- Add 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom for a aromatic kick
- Add 1/3 tsp. ground ginger or a little crystallized ginger for a gingery kick
- Add the zest of 1 orange for an orangey sweetness
- Add ½ tsp. kala namak if you want an eggy –like flavour
- Add 1tbsp. of nutritional yeast for a more savoury flavour
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the batter ingredients so that there are no lumps. Set aside for 10 mins for the chia seeds or ground flaxseed to thicken up the batter. I like the chia seeds whole as they add a little crunch. If you are not keen on seeing your chia seeds you can always grind using a coffee grinder.
- Heat up your non-stick frying pan to a high heat using your oil of choice; vegan butter or coconut oil.
- Briefly dip a slice of bread into the batter mixture and flip to coat the other side, then pop into the frying pan (which should then make sizzling sounds on contact). Do not soak the bread else it will become too soggy! If preferred, brush the batter onto the bread with a pastry brush. Lower the heat to a low-medium heat and then cook each side for 3-4 mins until golden brown. Patience is key (if too high a heat, the chia seeds might burn). Repeat with each toast, re-greasing with fresh oil in between each.
- If the toast is cooking unevenly, you can pop a lid onto the top of the frying pan to help crisp up the middle or pop the toasts onto a baking sheet and pop in the oven for about 5-10 mins on a low setting.
- Arrange toasts onto plates and serve! I love to serve with syrup, berries, seasonal fruit and berries, hemp seeds pumpkin seeds, thick yoghurt or coconut cream, or blueberry or raspberry compote.