French toast pockets

This blog seems to be veering dangerously away from baking territory and into breakfast territory. Pancakes, granola, more pancakes… In my defence, this next breakfast is actually baked.

Last Sunday I decided to whip up the most indulgent, artery-clogging brunch dish I know – thick French toast pockets stuffed with stewed apples and crisp bacon and drenched in maple syrup. 11am heaven.

Ed had just come back from a fifteen mile run (the nutter is training for April’s London Marathon). As chief cook and, ahem, ‘nutritionist’, I knew he’d need something substantial to get his energy levels back up. This dish is what the marathoner-in-training calls ‘good runner’s food’: protein, carbs and a whooole lotta calories.

If you haven’t been for a fifteen mile run prior to tucking in, there is a strong possibility that you will feel guilty eating this. Oh so very, very guilty. But every so often, there’s nothing better than giving into indulgence, right?

(And it does contain apples. Which, on second thought, makes this practically health food.)

(Edited to say that Edward is running for Crisis, one of London’s largest homeless charities – and you can sponsor him here!)

Eggy Bread Pockets Stuffed with Crispy Bacon and Apples
Adapted from Real Family Food by Antony Worrall Thompson

Serves 4

8 rashers bacon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
juice and zest of half a lemon
125ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup water
100g / 3.5 oz / 1/2 cup granulated sugar
125ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup milk
125ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup single cream
4 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 thick slices country-style white bread or brioche (1 or 2 days old)
2-3 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 325F / 170C. Place the bacon on a rack in the oven and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon but leave the oven on for later.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine the apple wedges with the water, lemon juice and zest and half the sugar. Simmer over medium heat until the apples have softened but still retain their shape. Drain apples and retain the apple cooking liquid.

Beat together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and remaining sugar. Add the remaining apple cooking liquid to the mixture.

With a small sharp knife, slit open one side of each bread slice, creating a pocket. Stuff with two slices of bacon and a quarter of the apple slices. Place the bread pockets in a shallow tray and pour over the liquid mixture. Let them soak up the liquid for a few minutes, turning the pockets at least once.

Heat the butter in a frying pan (you can also add a small amount of vegetable oil to prevent the butter from burning) and fry the pockets over a medium-high heat about 2 minutes per side, until golden. Now place pockets on rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes before serving with maple syrup.