For this French toast, brioche slices are soaked in a combination of eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. They’re then griddled to perfect. On top? An easy syrup made from Earl Grey tea, sugar, and water. Simple elegance.
When I created this French toast recipe with Earl Grey syrup, I had been trying to come up with an interesting and unique brunch condiment. I simply steeped Earl Grey bags in a one-to-one sugar and water solution, and the end result tasted fantastic paired with French toast. This easy syrup can be made ahead and rewarmed in a small saucepan or in the microwave when ready to serve. Any leftover syrup can be used to sweeten hot tea or stored in the refrigerator for later use.–Geoffrey Zakarian
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LC Earl Grey Syrup Note
We know what you’re thinking. And we bet it goes something like, “I better not try the Earl Grey syrup because my kids may turn up their nose at it.” Wanna know what we think? Yes, they may sniff at it and deign not to try it. Yes, you could save yourself the less than 5 minutes of effort it takes to make the Earl Grey syrup and simply make the French toast recipe on its own. And yes, you’d be missing out on a true taste sensation if you sacrificed this small pleasure for yourself. So please, for your own sake, relinquish yourself to the aroma of bergamot and just make the syrup already. You deserve it. Besides, any leftover Earl Grey syrup is lovely with oatmeal, tea, pancakes…we could go on. Shall we? Or are you convinced?
French Toast with Earl Grey Syrup
For the Earl Grey syrup
- 1 cup cold water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 Earl Grey tea bags
Make the Earl Grey syrup
- Squeeze the bags to get all that good Earl Greyness out of the grounds and then toss the bags in the compost or the trash. Bring the sweetened tea mixture to a simmer and cook until syrupy (you want it to be about the thickness of real maple syrup), 8 to 15 minutes. You should have about 3/4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
Make the French toast
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C). Have a baking sheet or platter ready.
- In a large bowl or baking dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Submerge 4 slices bread in the egg mixture and let soak, turning to make sure the slices are evenly soated but not falling apart saturated, for anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
- In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Working in batches, transfer 1 to 2 slices of French toast to the skillet after letting the excess egg mixture drip back into the bowl. Cook until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the French toast to the baking sheet or platter and slide it in the oven to keep warm while you repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and ingredients.
- Serve the French toast warm with additional butter, if desired, and a generous drizzle of warm Earl Grey syrup.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This French toast recipe with Earl Grey syrup might be a tough sell to maple syrup purists, but heck, let me give it a go. Twinings makes a lovely and readily available Earl Grey tea, which is what I used. I didn’t think the tea would steep well in the simple syrup, but it did. Simmering until it had reduced to a syrup took longer than expected—about 15 minutes to achieve grade A maple consistency. The syrup yield was just shy of 3/4 cup. Next I moved on to the finest of all French toast vehicles, the beloved challah. Cut it thick and don’t be shy, friends. I used a loaf pan to mix up the egg mixture. This makes it easier to fully dunk the slices. And yes, 30 seconds, flipping the slice back and forth, was enough to get them saturated but not fall-apart wet. I griddled these babies up at about 3 to 4 minutes per side and kept them warm in a low oven. The syrup was also warm when served, which was total heaven. Serves 4, but I foresee a problem not having an extra piece to fight over.
I made these for both my daughter and my husband. They both loved them, though my husband commented that the French toast itself could be a tad less sweet. (I used 2 tablespoons sugar in the French toast.) The Earl Grey syrup was simply amazing in terms of the taste. I didn’t think the tea would work as well as it did. It was not overwhelming but still noticeable and unique. I used Victorian Earl Grey from Celestial Seasonings. In terms of the syrup, it reduced to exactly 3/4 cup, and I still have a bit more left over after using it on 8 slices French bread. On a side note, the first day I only did 4 slices and kept the egg mixture in the fridge overnight and did the other 4 the day after, and they were just as perfect as on the first day. So if you do not have much time in the morning, you can easily prepare it the night before, and all you’ll need to do is fry them in the morning.
Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this French toast recipe is a treat. The Earl Grey syrup took 5 minutes to make and 5 minutes to steep, but I used a simmer burner on my stove when reducing it, so it took closer to 20 minutes to get to to a syrupy consistency. I used a fresh loaf of challah bread sliced into 1-inch thick slices. I used a gratin dish to mix the eggs and milk, as it was wide enough for me to soak 2 slices of bread at a time. Soaking for 30 seconds per side seemed to be about right, as the middle got squishy as it should be but not too wet. Cooking times seemed accurate—3 minutes per side. I didn’t need to heat the oven and store them, as the aroma had tasters waiting plate in hand by the stove. As fast as slices were cooked to golden perfection, they were snatched up and whisked away to the table. This recipe made 8 slices French toast, which equals dinner for 4 people at my house. As for the syrup, it was light and tasted faintly of tea and bergamot. If you are not a fan of bergamot, perhaps a spiced tea bag would work well here. Personally I found the taste appealing and will be making this syrup again in the future. I used 4 Bigelow Earl Grey tea bags and steeped them for a good 5 minutes in the sugar and water. Next time I might let it steep a little longer to see if that makes any difference. Of course I’ll have to double the recipe next time, as there were no seconds to be hand. All in all, a tasty meal.
I love tea, so making tea-infused syrup for French toast sounded like a great idea. The smell as the syrup cooked down was wonderful. The French toast by itself tasted good, and the sauce just added to it. The recipe is a fairly standard simple syrup, standard tea steeping, and standard French toast. If you know how to do these things, it’s a breeze. My advice is to squeeze out the bags before discarding in step 2. The syrup did reach a good consistency at 8 minutes for me. The syrup thickens slightly as it cools. If it’s too thick, you can always add more Earl Grey tea. If it’s too thin, you could just cook it a little longer later. For French toast, I usually use a large oval casserole. This worked well for this recipe too. The bread does need to soak longer than 30 seconds. I flipped them over and soaked for another 30 seconds. The cooking time was perfect at 2 minutes per side. After tasting the syrup, I think it might also taste great on oatmeal.
Mmmmm…challah French toast! This French toast recipe would be good with or without the special Earl Grey syrup. I’d never heard of or thought about using a mix of heavy cream and milk, but this set the stage for rich deliciousness. I used a cast-iron skillet and 1 tablespoon butter for every 2 slices, and this created a lovely texture for my golden brown French toast. (Yes, I used twice as much butter as the recipe called for.) My slices took 2 to 3 minutes per side to cook, closer to 3 for the first few slices and down to 2 towards the end. The 30-second soak time was accurate; I mixed everything right in a Pyrex baking dish, so I didn’t have an extra dish to wash. I also liked the clear Pyrex dish because I could see how soaked through my slice was. The ratio of bread to soaking liquid was perfect. I had to mush the last slice around a little to get it well-soaked but ended up with a nicely soaked final slice and no liquid left over. When I had finished the French toast, the Earl Grey syrup had thickened a bit during cooling, so I heated it back up, and it returned to the proper syrupy consistency. I used Stash Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea, which I hadn’t tried before. I skipped heating the oven to keep the French toast warm. Because this was not a formal meal, I served the French toast from skillet to plate. Not everyone could eat all at once, but everyone got top-notch French toast as a result. Initially, I thought 8 slices of bread for 4 servings would be skimpy. I was prepared to say that each person would eat 3 slices. Having now eaten this, I feel the 2 slices per serving is generally accurate, though there may be folks who would be happy with a third slice, or another half slice. After making this tea-based syrup, I’ve been thinking about other flavors to try, from fruity Black Currant and Ginger Peach to spicy Chai and smoky Lapsang Souchong. I feel any of these could work with French toast, or pancakes for that matter. The syrup would also be good over oatmeal.
The French toast recipe was excellent, and the Earl Grey syrup was great. I used the Bigelow tea brand. I used a large bowl to limit my cleanup, and it worked well. I just had to place 2 slices of bread in the bowl at a time. I’ll be making my next batch on Mother’s Day and would like to try matcha (green tea powder).
Originally published May 23, 2015