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Can you do this without oil?
FRENCH TOAST Recipe included
There are three secrets to making golden brown French toast without oil, without butter, without cooking spray, without toxic non-stick pan coatings leaching off into your food.
High Quality Pan
Consistent, high heat
The right amount of movement
I’ve written about the art of the oil-free sauté in many previous posts, and will recap here. I’ve been using an Ozeri pan, the Stone Earth model, which works great for sautéing veggies.
But French toast is a different beast altogether. French toast is dripping wet and sweet to boot. Nothing sticks to a pan better than sugars, amIright?
I’ve been experimenting with oil free cooking for pancakes and French toast. (Pancakes are way easier!) I bought various kinds non-stick pans. They worked for French toast for about two uses. By the third use, the toast stuck to the pan, which was scary, because it meant the coating had come off the pan and probably into my body.
Even my Ozeri pan would only work for the first batch, and then only barely. It would stick a little, and the second batch would just stay entirely glued to the pan. You’d have to cool the pan, clean it, and start over to get a second batch to work. I suppose you could use two pans to cook two batches, but come on, man!
Then I tried a new pan—same brand, Ozeri, because they were the best at the oil-free veggie sauté, but I went a model up and got the more expensive (around fifty bucks) pro-series model. Here’s what happened when I put gooey, wet, sweet French toast into it, after totally ignoring it’s tag’s advice to “season with oil” before each use. Screw that. I cleaned it and put it to use. Oil-free is oil-free.
I’ll stick a link to this pan below. I’m not here to sell pans, but this freaking thing amazes me. I mean, look at the toast not sticking! And all the goo stayed on the bread where it belongs! There’s none on the pan. Wiped clean after. I’m blown away.
Anyway, that’s the first key to oil-free cooking. A high quality pan.
The other two keys are heat and the proper amount of motion.
Regardless of what you’re cooking, you need to get the pan nice and hot before you add the food, and this is especially true with French toast. If the pan is hot, the batter cooks faster than it sticks. At least that’s my non-scientific theory of how it works. Ditto for pancakes.
Most pans warn you not to heat them on high heat, so I exercise my weakest muscle, the patience muscle (that’s a thing, right?) and only turn the burner up to medium high. Once the pan is nice and hot, I gradually nudge it down to medium depending on how the toast is cooking. Too high and it’ll burn, and we don’t want that.
To test the pan’s heat, I crack the faucet a little bit, wiggle my fingers under its trickle, then wiggle them again over the pan. Droplets rain in. If I hear sizzles and the water beads and dances, the pan is hot enough.
For sautéing veggies, constant to near-constant motion is the third key.
The opposite is true for pancakes and French toast. The key for these is to leave them the fuck alone, you’ll pardon my French. Toast.
When the pan is nice and hot, and your water droplet dances, drop the batter coated bread into the pan, and wait. Don’t move it. Don’t rearrange it. Don’t push that piece closer to that other piece to make room for that third piece. Just leave it alone.
Walk away. It’s good to walk away. Turn to the counter, maybe wash the shit out of some strawberries and start chopping. Then check the toast.
When it’s no longer wet around the bottom, you can lift it with your plastic or silicone utensil (never metal, not in this precious freaking pan, are you even kidding me right now?) to lift up the edge and take a peek. Don’t flip it until it’s the golden brown you love. Then flip.
Walk away again. Maybe wash the shit out of some blueberries to put on top. (Did you see Poisoned on Netflix? Wash the shit out of everything.)
Maybe get out your favorite plates.
When the toast is golden on both sides, plate those babies and start the next batch.
The very best vegan French toast recipe is a very simple one. This is my WFPB-tweaked, bigger-batch version of Nora Cooks’ French toast recipe. Her version uses soy milk, more corn starch, less flax seed, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil.
*I love Nora’s recipes and recommend them! But no matter whose recipe I use, I always remove oil, substitute whole grain for white flours, replace white sugar with less refined sugars, and make any other changes necessary to bring the recipe into my healthy, whole food, plant-based eating plan.
1 loaf fresh French Bread, sliced into 1 & 1/2” slices
2 cups almond, oat, or soy milk - unsweetened, unflavored
1/3 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
Put the pan on the burner and set it a little higher than medium heat.
Cut the bread into 1 & 1/2-inch slices.
Mix all ingredients in a wide shallow bowl, whisking until they’re well combined. It’ll take a little effort to get everything incorporated.
Test the pan. Do nothing more until it’s so hot that water droplets bead and dance
When the pan is hot, put several slices of bread (only what will fit in the pan without the slices touching each other) into the batter. Count ten seconds. One-one-thousand, etc. Flip it over. Count ten seconds. Repeat with ten more seconds on each side.
Drop each soaked slice into the hot pan.
Drop them where you want them because you must not rearrange them once you they have touched down.
Drop them and walk away.
Wash and chop any fruit you want for toppings. Wash them very, very well. We always have strawberries and blueberries. Sometimes I’ll throw on a banana. Prepping the fruit will keep you from pestering the toast too much.
When you think it’s time, lift the edges of one slice with a non-metal utensil, to peek underneath. When the bread is golden brown on one side, flip the slices over. Keep cooking until both sides are golden brown.
Serve topped with fruit and maple syrup.
Now here’s that pan that has changed my life.
Oh, and here’s how that toast came out.