When Joanne Chang recently announced via Twitter (@jbchang) that she was signing a lease for a fourth Flour location, pastry lovers around the city dropped what they were doing and immediately Google-mapped its proximity to their homes and offices with bated breath. Well, we did, anyway. Chang (pictured above) tells us Flour 4 is slated to open by the end of the year at 131 Clarendon Street in Back Bay (the onetime home of Hard Rock Café), and she assures that it will offer the same glimmering selection of pastries and sandwiches that we know and love. Daily and weekly specials will continue to be dreamed up by the ladies and gents on staff. Does she see her sweet and savory empire going the way of fro-yo and cupcakes, popping up on every corner? Not quite yet: "We think four is a great number!" We agree for now, but let's just consider this our signature on the eventual petition for world sticky-bun domination.
Joanne Chang’s French Toast
2/3 cup of vanilla sugar
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
2 cups of half-and-half
6 one-inch-thick slices of country-style sourdough bread (preferably day-old)
3-4 tablespoons of unsalted butter for cooking
2 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar for garnish
Crack eggs into a small bowl and slowly whisk in sugar and salt. Then whisk in half-and-half. Place bread in a shallow container or baking dish and pour egg mixture over the bread. Turn the bread over to coat both sides and cover with plastic. Place in refrigerator overnight. The next morning, turn the bread over again. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Heat a tablespoon or so of butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan. When it sizzles, the pan is ready to fry the French toast.
Place two slices of French toast in the pan and cook on one side until golden brown - about two to three minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the other side is golden brown. Remove slices from heat and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the French toast, adding another tablespoon or so of butter to the skillet each time. Place baking sheet in the oven for about eight to 10 minutes to finish cooking the insides. When the French toast is done baking, the insides will be custardy and soft but no longer soggy and wet. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar and serve immediately with more butter and maple syrup.
Chang is currently slogging through the acknowledgements and final edits for her second book, Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Café's Most Loved Sweets and Savories. Look for it on May 31, 2013.
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