Well, I skipped the rum so these are really Raisin French Toast Royale. They are the best kind of french toast I've ever had. They blur the lines between french toast regular and bread pudding, breakfast edition. Well worth all the preparation.
The preparation involved baking a loaf of bread, a loaf of cinamon-swirl raisin bread. And since I decided to have a brunch party, I made two loaves of bread and four batches of french toast. (The recipe makes 4 slices, which is roughly half a loaf of bread.)
The cinnamon-swirl raisin bread is a soft white loaf and it was really hard to have two loaves of it sitting untouched on the counter for a couple of days. (You want the bread to be a bit stale so that it soaks up the custard better.) This loaf begins with a starter then after a few hours is kneaded for a long time in the mixer. At this point the raisins are added to the dough--I assumed they were going to be in the filling but Rose says adding the fruit to the dough this way keeps the spiral nice and tight. The KitchenAid will dance across the counter and so I spent the ten minutes with one eye on the counter. After the kneading, the dough is left to double, then degassed and chilled. Then the fun part: the dough is rolled into a rectangle, the cinnamon sugar is sprinkled over and the bread is rolled up tight, with melted butter brushed on the dough between rolls. The seams are pinched together, the ends are tucked under, and the loaf is plopped into a bread pan and left to rise one more time. Then off to bake and then sit tantalizingly on the counter for a couple of days.
The french toast part of the recipe begins with a basic custard: heavy cream, milk, eggs, and nutmeg. And rum, if you aren't going to be feeding a couple of children. The loaf is sliced into 1 inch thick slices--I got 8 slices per loaf with a little bit left to shave off each end. The slices are left in the custard overnight, in a single layer, so I rustled up a bunch of pans to fit 16 slices and squish into the refrigerator. The 10 inch cake pans were a bit roomy, the 9 inch pans a bit tight. I've never soaked french toast overnight, I've just dipped/soaked for a few minutes before cooking so this was all new to me.
Soaking overnight does make the french toast easy to prepare for brunch as all the prep is done the days and night before. I am a convert.
My parents were in town, I invited over some good friends, and we had french toast with hashbrowns and sausage and fruit on the back deck. It was delicious. The insides were soft and custardy, the nutmeg in the custard and the cinnamon in the bread gave it a nice flavor. I think the texture was my favorite part of the french toast: it was so creamy and soft it really did remind me of bread pudding.