We have all heard of French toast. But French toast muffins? With strawberry and miso? What is this madness?
Last weekend, I hosted a brunch. This wasn’t my first foray into breakfast parties as I’d cooked a spread of pancakes for my 26th birthday, and we all got drunk on Bloody Marys. As usual I never remember to take photographs of my social life, so please just take my word for it. These pictures of the decorations will have to do. This brunch was almost identical to the last except now I don’t live with a sociopathic housemate (unless you count Gaylord but he’s not that bad) and this time, instead of pancakes, I made French toast.
French toast is always a crowd pleaser. Creamy egg-soaked bread is fried until crispy on the outside but pillow-soft in the centre. The table was groaning under the weight of maple syrup, jam, yoghurt, Nutella, plus all the other edible delights of baguette, sausages, bacon, scrambled eggs, and the walk-away hit from four years ago, smashed avocado with chunks of salty feta. The French toast fitted in quite nicely I must say, and everyone ate and ate, then, when everyone had gone home, Gaylord and I piled up the leftovers and ate them for dinner. A day of two brunches is a happy day.
Yet, there is something about French toast which no longer screams ‘showstopper’ anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s one of those beige foods I find so frustrating, or is it because it lies so flatly on the plate, naively waiting to be eaten? This is why I made these strawberry-miso French toast muffins.
What are French toast muffins?
A muffin version of French toast is kind of like French toast ‘to-go’. It’s portable, there’s less mess, and you can eat with your hands which is always a plus. They have the crucial crispy outside and creamy centre, however, now they are stuffed with sweet roasted strawberries.
These muffins are a leisurely weekend breakfast, a brunch for kings and VIPs. They are not a breakfast to make before work, unless your job is dilly-dallying around a kitchen making breakfast (and if it is, tell me how I can find a job like this). French toast muffins take that luxury amount of time and patience found at the weekend, cup of coffee in hand and some Desert Island Discs on the radio.
They are, in fact, incredibly simple. Throw together chunks of soft white sandwich bread, an easy vanilla egg custard, miso-marinated strawberries and squash them messily into a muffin tray. Oh yeah, then sprinkle with streusel – as I said, they are luxurious. Once baked, you will have a platter of cute golden sweet-smelling French toast muffins, studded with jewel-like strawberries.
Now, where does this sneaky miso come in?
Before strawberries are in their prime, you can magically boost their flavour by roasting them in the oven. Your taste buds deserve a punch of strawberry flavour, and further improvement can be made by a touch of salty miso. The butterscotch notes of caramel or simply a sprinkling of sea salt enhance sweet fruity flavours enormously. While miso is famous for its potency, the umami bolsters the strawberries to become the star of this French toast show. Strawberries and miso, much like Bonnie and Clyde, are the perfect match. And, I have to warn you – the scent of roasting strawberries, miso and vanilla wafting from the oven is one of the most hypnotising I have ever experienced.
The winning combination of juicy succulent strawberries and fluffy French toast has never been more tempting. Load your French toast muffin with Nutella because you deserve it and enjoy your weekend brunch.
Strawberry-miso French toast muffins
For the miso-strawberries:
- ½ tsp white miso
- ½ tsp water
- 1-1½ tsp sugar
- 3 big strawberries or 6 small strawberries
For the French toast muffins
- 5 slices white sandwich bread/brioche
- 3 eggs
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Butter for greasing
For the struesel
- 2 tbsp flour
- ½ tbsp sugar
- ½ tbsp butter
- Put the miso and water in a mixing bowl and kind of mash them together into a slurry without lumps. Wash then chop the strawberries into chunks then toss them in the miso liquid along with the sugar. If your strawberries are a bit watery and flavourless add more sugar and taste to make sure they are sweet. Set aside to macerate.
- In another mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar until well combined. Chop the bread into small squares then throw them into the egg-mix, jostle them around so they are totally coated, then – if you're not scared of raw egg – taste a piece just to make sure the flavours are balanced.
- Now's the hard part – the waiting. Leave the bread and strawberries to soak for 30 minutes. It's a long time, yes I agree, but believe me, so worth it!
- Meanwhile, so you can keep yourself busy, make the streusel. This is a really quick streusel, a few tablespoon scoops of each and rub them together with your finger tips until it all resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease 6 holes of a muffin tray.
- Pour the strawberries and all the miso and juice into the bread mixture and gently combine. Use your (clean) hands for this, it's the only way. It will look like a lot of French toast but it will all squeeze into the muffin holes, I promise! Divide the bread and strawberries between the muffin holes and squash them together. Top with the streusel then bake for 25-30 minutes until the bread and streusel are lovely and golden. Serve with maple syrup, yoghurt, Nutella, and enjoy your luxury bruncheon.