Happy Labor Day!
Aside from marking the unofficial end of the summer, do you know what we're celebrating? Us! Well, unless you're one of the fortunate few sitting in a four hundred room castle and being waited on by servants. It's the "working man's" holiday. In the late 1800's, people worked twelve-hour days, often seven-days a week. Yikes! The terrible working conditions led to protests, marches, and a major boycott of Pullman railway cars. Happily, over the years, working conditions improved significantly through the labor movement. On June 28th, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
So, for the last gasp of summer fun, I offer French toast with mixed berries. What's more summery than berries? Right? This has been such a fabulous year for blackberries. When I saw them at the store, I knew I had to use them for a wonderful French toast breakfast for guests. I added strawberries and kept the entire project very simple.
I used one package of blackberries in a simple syrup. The other two were mixed with halved strawberries. I added some sugar and let them macerate while the bread soaked.
As it happened, I had two types of bread on hand, regular wheat and multi-grain. My guests were game, so I made four slices of each with interesting results. The multi-grain had more texture, probably because of some chunky grain pieces. We were all okay with that. But the bigger issue was that it didn't hold up as well. It's do-able, so if multi-grain is important to you, go ahead and use it, but expect it to fall apart a bit. That will probably vary with different brands of bread, but when selecting bread for French toast, be aware that it might not be the best choice.
The bread I used was sliced like sandwich bread, so it wasn't very thick. That worked well in that it absorbed the liquid very fast. However, it also was more fragile for transferring to the pan and flipping. That said, I would use it again. Especially on a morning when I didn't want to wait around for thick bread to absorb the milk.
The blackberry sauce is a little bit thin, but just the right note. Warning, some may lick their plates to get every last drop.
Mixed Berry French Toast
3 6-ounce packages blackberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
8-10 large strawberries, halved (or as many as you like)
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
8 slices bread
olive or canola oil
Mix one 6-ounce package of blackberries with the water and 1/2 cup sugar in a small pot. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, uncovered about five minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, and apple pie spice. Pour into a large baking dish and soak the slices of bread in it for about 30 minutes.
Pour enough oil into a medium hot pan or griddle to cover it. Add slices of the bread (4 at a time if necessary) and cook, flipping once or twice, until golden on both sides.
To serve, top with a generous amount of macerated fruit and the blackberry sauce. Offer maple syrup for those who crave it.