Swoon Over This Café French Toast With A Delicious Twist

Breakfast sorted.

Simple French toast with maple syrup is delicious, but this recipe is something different.

Imagine soft in the middle, slightly crispy on the outside brioche French toast topped with macadamia crumble and sweet balsamic strawberries.

If you're thinking, 'balsamic vinegar, with fruit?', don't worry. Much like banana with bacon or caramel and salt, strawberries with balsamic just work. The vinegar doesn't overwhelm the strawberries -- rather, it brings out the sweetness. Give it a go.

If fancy French toast wasn't enough, this recipe from All Day Café by Stuart McKenzie even includes homemade vanilla ice cream, because French toast always calls for ice cream.

French toast with balsamic strawberries and macadamia crumble

I'd recommend you start this recipe the day before, so your crumble and strawberries are ready to go, and all that needs to be done in the morning is to cook the French toast.

At the café we often serve this with ice cream, even for breakfast, so look for the best vanilla ice cream you can find or have a go at making some yourself (recipe below). Alternatively, serve with vanilla yoghurt or mascarpone.

Serves four.


Macadamia crumble:

  • 35g (¼ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 50g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
  • 40g (½ cup) shredded coconut
  • 40g (¼ cup) crushed macadamia nuts

Balsamic strawberries:

  • 55g (¼ cup) caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 300g strawberries, hulled

French toast:

  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) milk
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) thin (pouring) cream
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 brioche loaf, about 400g, cut into 8 slices about 2cm thick


  1. To make the macadamia crumble, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Put the flour and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture. Stir in the coconut and macadamias.
  2. Spread on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The crumble can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
  3. To make the balsamic strawberries, put the sugar, balsamic vinegar and two tablespoons cold water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the strawberries and increase the heat to high. Bring to the boil and cook for three minutes. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate until needed.
  4. To make the French toast, whisk together the eggs, milk and cream in a wide bowl. Melt half the butter in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Dip four slices of bread, one at a time, in the egg mixture until soaked, then drain off the excess.
  5. Fry the bread for two minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm while you cook the remainder of the slices. Serve topped with the strawberries and crumble.

Vanilla ice cream

Makes about 1.25 litres.


  • 500ml (2 cups) thickened (whipping) cream
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 12 egg yolks


  1. Pour the cream and milk into a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add half the sugar.
  2. Slit the vanilla bean down its length with a small sharp knife. Use the knife to scrape out as many of the tiny black seeds as you can into the cream mixture. Cut the vanilla bean into three pieces and drop it into the pan.
  3. Heat the cream and milk over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it almost boils. Take the pan off the heat and set aside so the vanilla can infuse.
  4. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until pale, thickened and the volume has increased. Add the cream mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Be careful that it doesn't boil. As soon as you see any bubbles about to burst to the surface (the custard should be thick enough) take the saucepan off the heat so the mixture doesn't curdle. Remove and discard the pieces of vanilla bean.
  6. Allow the custard to cool completely before churning in an ice-cream machine following the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze for four hours, or until firm (see Cook's tips). About 20 minutes before serving, transfer the ice cream to the fridge to soften slightly.

Cook's tip: If freezing overnight, wrap the ice cream container in a double layer of plastic wrap. This will prevent ice crystals from forming.

Image and recipes from All Day Café by Stuart McKenzie (Murdoch Books RRP $39.99)