Strawberry-Glazed French Toast

Serving breakfast in bed on Valentine’s Day is a romantic way to begin this day that has become synonymous with affection and romance. Of course, pouring a bowl of cereal and bringing it upstairs won’t have the same impact as whipping up a homemade breakfast. Those who want to impress their sweethearts this Valentine’s Day and start the day off right can prepare the following recipe for “Strawberry-Glazed French Toast with Sweetened Sour Cream” courtesy of Betty Rosbottom’s “Sunday Brunch” (Chronicle Books).

Strawberry-Glazed French Toast with Sweetened Sour Cream

Yields 4 Servings

8 1-inch-thick bread slices, cut from a country or peasant loaf (see note 1)

2 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, plus 1/2 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/3 cup strawberry jam or preserves (see note 2)

1. Arrange a rack at center position and preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the bread slices on a baking sheet and bake until dry and very lightly browned, about 8 minutes per side. Watch carefully so that the bread does not burn. Remove the bread from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 200 F.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, egg yolks, brown sugar, 1 tablespoon vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture into a shallow pan (a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish works well). Add the toasted bread slices and soak them 4 minutes per side. Remove to a large plate or platter.

3. Place a large, heavy frying pan over low to medium heat. Add about 2 teaspoons of the butter, or enough to coat the bottom of the pan lightly. When melted, add enough bread slices to fit comfortably in a single layer. Cook slowly until the slices are golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a baking sheet and place in the warm oven. Repeat, adding more butter to the pan as needed until all the bread slices have been sautéed.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

5. When ready to serve, spread each toast with a thin coating of strawberry jam and top with a dollop of sweetened sour cream.

Note 1: The best bread for this dish is an unsliced loaf of good-quality peasant or country bread, preferably one without an extra-hard crust. One that is rectangular, rather than round, is more convenient, but either will do. Cut off the ends of the loaf, and reserve for another use. Then slice the bread into 1-inch-thick slices. If your loaf is large and the slices seem large, cut them in half.

Note 2: You can try other jams, preserves or marmalades. Cherry, raspberry or peach preserves and orange marmalade are other possibilities.