Friday, January 6, 2012

Crystal Palace - Puffed French Toast

This is one of my all-time favorite foods... the Puffed French Toast from the Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  I remember going to the restaurant as a child when it was a cafeteria-style establishment.  You would take a tray and pick up what ever you wanted along the line and pay at the end.  The Puffed French Toast was entree-sized and absolutely delicious.  There were no characters to entertain us while dining back then, just the beautiful interior and the small birds that would fly around inside.

These days the Crystal Palace is a character meal which features Winnie the Pooh and "friends."  I still enjoy the restaurant and it probably is my favorite character meal (although it does get LOUD in there!).  It is a lot of fun and the food is good.  They still serve the Puffed French Toast, but it has been miniaturized and you can find it at the "children's buffet" (a shorter buffet table set up for the little ones to serve themselves).   I feel no guilt or embarrassment as I take food from the kids' table each time I visit!

A good tip for having breakfast at the Crystal Palace is to make your reservation for the earliest opening of the day, before the park opens to the public.  This way, you can get some great family photos in front of the castle with almost no one else on Main Street.  Also, you will have had a great breakfast and already be in the park when the "rope drops" at the Magic Kingdom.

Ok... on to the food!  I made this as a special treat for New Year's Day.   Here is a pic of the ingredients...

Yes, that is an episode of Friends on my tv in the background. I can't resist a good Friends repeat! 

First, I cut the bread into thick slices.  The recipe calls for Texas Toast, but my grocery store didn't have any (or even any bakery white bread that I could cut into think slices), so I bought a loaf of Italian bread.  I knew I was using it for french toast, so I bought it from the day-old bread section since I was going to want it a bit stale anyway.  Stale bread soaks in the custard much better and won't fall apart like fresh bread in the egg mixture.  I didn't cut the crusts off, but it might be a good idea if your bread has a tough, crispy crust.

In a large bowl, I mixed together 2 eggs, 2 1/2 Tbs sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

Then I added 2 cups milk.  Next, I gradually whisked in 1 cup of flour and 2 1/2 tsp baking powder.  Mix until it is smooth.

In a shallow dish, combine 4 tsp cinnamon with 3/4 cup sugar and set aside.

Place a few slices of bread in the custard and let it sit a few minutes to soak up some creamy goodness.  Meanwhile, heat up about 1 inch of vegetable oil in a pan (I used my cast iron skillet).


When you think that your oil is hot enough, take your soaked bread pieces (let any excess batter drip off) and carefully place them in the hot oil.  I used tongs to make sure didn't splatter any oil and they made it easy to carefully flip them over.  Only cook a few pieces at a time... if you crowd the pan the oil will drop in temperature.

After a few minutes the bottoms should be golden brown and you can flip them over to cook on the other side.

When they are golden brown on both sides, place them on a plate covered in paper towels (which will soak up some of the excess oil).

While they are still warm, coat them in the cinnamon sugar topping.  Really press them into the sugar and get a nice coating... this is the good stuff!  Get the sides too.  I did this with my hands, but since they are pretty warm you may want to use forks or spoons to coat them.

And that's pretty much it!  If you are feeding a crowd and want to serve all the pieces at once you may want to keep the french toast warm in a low oven while you continue cooking.  

Here is the final result!

Let's just go crazy and add butter and maple syrup.

This certainly doesn't need syrup, but I love the thick, super-sweet magic that happens when that cinnamon coating mixes with the maple syrup.  I guess it brings back those childhood Disney memories.  My husband prefers it without butter and syrup and says it tastes like a yummy churro.

I think Piglet (with my Mickey doll) would approve!

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