- 8 (3/4-inch- to 1/2-inch-thick) slices challah or brioche bread
- 6 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons canola or peanut oil, divided
- Butter and maple syrup, for serving
Dry out the bread: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 285°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a wire rack on top. Arrange the bread on the rack in a single layer and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. This will not toast or brown the bread, but it will dry out the tops and bottoms. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature: Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F (if your oven goes to 185°F, that’s even better). Transfer the bread to a platter and reserve the baking sheet and rack.
Prepare the egg batter: In a 9×13-inch or 10×15-inch casserole dish or glass baking dish, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, cream or half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until frothy and completely combined.
Soak half the bread: Place 4 slices of bread into the egg mixture. Let sit without turning for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes for challah or 2 minutes for brioche. Use a slotted spatula to flip the bread over. Let the second side sit in the egg mixture for the same amount of time. (The objective is to have the bread keep its shape but get soaked through.) While the bread is soaking, prepare the pan.
Prepare the pan: Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 teaspoon of the oil in a 14- to 16-inch nonstick frying pan or skillet. Heat over medium-low heat. When the butter is melted (past the foaming point), tilt to coat the pan.
Cook the French toast: Working with 1 slice at a time, lift the soaked bread out of the egg mixture with the slotted spatula, allow any excess to drip off for about 5 seconds, and place in the hot pan. Cook until golden-brown on the bottom, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for a 3/4-inch-thick slice, or 1 to 1 1/2 minutes for a 1 1/2-inch-thick slice. Flip the bread over and cook until the second side is golden-brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes more. Reduce the heat as necessary if the bread is getting too dark too fast.
Soak the rest of the bread: While the first 4 slices are cooking, soak the remaining 4 bread slices in the egg batter.
Finish the first batch: Transfer the French toast to the reserved rack and baking sheet. Place the sheet in the oven to keep warm.
Refresh the pan: Wipe the pan clean with paper towels. Return the pan to medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and heat until the butter is fully melted.
Cook the remaining bread: Cook the remaining soaked bread slices. Serve immediately with butter and maple syrup.