Challah French Toast **

From Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten, found at Barefoot Contessa

I am  big fan of french toast.  So when I saw some great challah loaves while out shopping I decided to pick up a loaf to make french toast.  I had planned to use Aquitaine's french toast recipe but for some reason I have misplaced it.  So, I decided to use this recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten.  The only change I made to the recipe was to add the juice of the orange I zested to the custard mixture.  I reduced the half-and-half by 1/4 cup.  I had 1/2 a loaf of bread left afterwards.  Next time I will double the recipe so I can use up the entire loaf.

Taste-wise, my family enjoyed the french toast.  I served it with crispy bacon, strawberries and maple syrup.

6 extra-large eggs 
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk 
1 teaspoon grated orange zest 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 tablespoon good honey 
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 large loaf challah or brioche bread 
Unsalted butter 
Vegetable oil 

To serve: 
Pure maple syrup 
Good raspberry preserves (optional) 
Sifted confectioner's sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. 

In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once. 

Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioner's sugar.