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“With an overnight soak in cream, eggs, and Grand Marnier, this French toast (based on a 1967 recipe in McCall's) remains the best version I know: like bread-and-butter pudding without the pudding. No recipe better demonstrates the superiority of a vanilla bean over extract -- the seedlets sauteed in butter have an amazing, over-the-top aroma and flavor.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. A day in advance, slice the crusts off the bread, cut each slice in half diagonally, and let them dry on a rack while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. If your vanilla bean isn't 1/4 inches thick, moist, and full of seeds, use a longer piece. Preferably, pound the bean to shreds with the sugar in a mortar and pestle -- otherwise, cut it up in small bits. Combine everything in a blender at low speed, further chopping the bean fragments.
  3. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer in a tightly-closeable container just large enough to hold them (about 8 x 6 inches). Strain the liquid over them, pressing hard to squeeze everything out of the bits of vanilla bean. Let stand at room temperature until most of the liquid is absorbed, then drain off the rest into a cup and pour it slowly back over the bread. Refrigerate overnight; it will keep for several days.
  4. At serving time, pan-fry 2 slices per serving in 1 teaspoon butter, starting on medium heat and turning the burner down so the slices cook through slowly to a rich golden brown; for the second side, the burner should be on low. Serve with maple syrup, a berry puree, or even simply a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

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