French toast is one of those traditionally non-vegan foods that I once thought would be difficult to reproduce without the eggs and dairy milk upon which the custard base is typically built. A few years into making vegan edibles of many persuasions, I have long realized that it is not only entirely possible to turn out a perfectly delightful batch of French toast. I've also realized that being willing to make key substitutions opens one up to the idea of adding variation, potentially turning something that is perfectly good in its most basic form into something a little special, yet still familiar.
Peanut Butter French Toast is obviously a twist on the classic brunch dish. Like so many good things, this peanut-kissed creation was born one lazy Sunday morning, from a desire for French toast and resourcefulness with the limited ingredients on hand. We had a few slices of homemade whole wheat bread, leftover from a loaf we all but devoured the day before; an errant, semi-filled jar of thick coconut milk; and none of the usual "egg replacers" (e.g., flax seed, pre-mixed starch blends). The attempt that day yielded beautiful, golden-crisp slabs of bread with a tender, peanut- and coconut-flavored bite. Although we used a slurry of whole wheat flour and water as thickener for the first attempt, I've since tried the dish with milled flax seed and water--my preferred binder and egg substitute when it comes to vegan baking (or in this case, pan-frying).
Peanut Butter French Toast (printer-friendly version)
Yields 2 servings
Soy-free; gluten-free optional*
2 T natural peanut butter (if unsalted, add a pinch of salt)
1 T milled flax seed, whisked with 3 T warm water, until thickened (may substitute with flour and water)
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 T pure maple syrup
¾ c coconut milk
4 slices of stale or lightly toasted bread, each approximately ½-inch thick (*use gluten-free bread, if desired)
1-2 T canola oil, to coat the bottom of a heavy-bottom skillet (such as cast iron)
Powdered sugar and additional maple syrup for serving, optional
Heat a heavy-bottom skillet over medium-low setting.
In a medium-sized, wide-bottomed bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, flax seed mixture, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and coconut milk until evenly distributed. Dip the slices of bread into the wet mixture, one at a time, until each side is coated and some of the mixture has just begun to soak into the bread (a few seconds); this works best if you dip the slices just before you plan to cook them. Place the slices in the hot pan and cook for a few minutes, until firm and golden-brown. Flip the slices and cook the other side until it is also golden brown. Serve hot and enjoy!