(serves 4) *I cut the recipe in half for 2*
8 large slices of hearty whit bread or good quality challah bread
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed (I used 2% milk and it seemed fine)
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons for cooking
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup and powdered sugar for serving
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake bread until almost dry throughout, about 16 minutes (approximately 8 minutes if cutting recipe in half), flipping slices halfway through cooking. This helps reduce the sogginess of the bread. Remove bread from wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Return baking sheet with wire rack to oven and reduce temperature to 200 degrees (this is to keep the french toast warm once it has been cooked)
Whisk warmed milk, egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons melted butter, salt and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Transfer mixture to 13-by-9 inch baking pan (I left the mixture in the bowl and dipped the french toast individually)
Soak the bread slices in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side. Using firm slotted spatula (or tongs), pick up the bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with the remaining slices. Place the soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.
Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. When foaming subsides, use spatula (tongs) to transfer 2 slices of soaked bread to the skillet at a time.
Cook until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 3-4 minutes longer. (If toast is cooking too quickly, reduce temperature slightly) Transfer to baking sheet in oven. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Repeat cooking with remaining bread, 2 pieces at a time, adding 1/2 teaspoon of butter for each batch.
adapted by Cook's Illustrated