Recipe: French Toast Gratin by Chef Kirsten Walker

The Four Seasons Westlake Village shares a recipe for crispy, crunchy make-ahead French toast

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Part bread pudding, part fruit crisp, the French toast at Westlake’s Four Seasons seems pretty fancy, but it’s actually quite easy to whip up at home. Chef Kirsten Walker says the trick is to “make sure all the layers of brioche are smothered in the egg mixture. As the gratin bakes, the bread will soak up the liquid,” yielding a custard-like interior. Another tip? Try using bread flour in the streusel for extra crunch. As the seasons turn, consider trying this recipe with pears and apples in place of summer’s peaches.

French Toast Gratin by Chef Kirsten Walker of The Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake Village
Yields 8-10 servings

1 medium brioche loaf, cut into large, thin squares
1 quart heavy cream
6 large eggs
½ cup white sugar
1/8 cup dark rum
1 Tbsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
1-2 cups peach compote (recipe follows)
1 cup oat streusel (recipe follows)

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. To make batter, whisk together heavy cream, eggs, sugar, rum, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.
  3. Place half of the cut brioche into a large, deep sided casserole dish.
  4. Pour ½ of the egg batter on top of brioche.
  5. Spoon and layer prepared peach compote on top of brioche.
  6. Place the rest of the cut brioche on top of the peach compote.
  7. Drizzle some of the reserved peach liquid on top of the brioche.
  8. Pour remaining egg batter on top of brioche. Let mixture sit until all liquid is absorbed (may sit overnight in refrigerator).
  9. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven and remove aluminum. At this point, the French toast should look soft and be slightly steamy.
  11. Sprinkle the oat streusel on top of the gratin and place back in oven – uncovered.
  12. Bake until streusel is toasted and French toast is light golden brown.
  13. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.
  14. Serve with peach compote on the side and maple syrup.

Peach Compote:
4 peaches (semi-firm, cut into wedges)
1 sprig thyme
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water

Place sugar and water into a pot. Heat until all sugar has dissolved. Add peaches and sprig of thyme and cook on medium heat until peaches are slightly softened- approximately 15-20 minutes. Cool. Discard thyme. Reserve until ready to use.

Oat Streusel:
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 ¾ cups unsalted butter, cut up
½ Tbsp. cinnamon
½ Tbsp. Kosher salt
½ Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups bread flour or All Purpose flour
1 ½ cups oats

  1. Place dry ingredients in a standing mixer with a paddle attachment.
  2. Turn to low speed. Add vanilla extract.
  3. Add all of the butter.
  4. Keep mixing until streusel begins to clump together.
  5. The streusel should look like “small pebbles.” Do not over mix.
  6. To test, turn off mixer and scoop some streusel into your hand. Squeeze the mixture – it should hold together.
  7. Once done, place streusel onto a sheet pan in one layer. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. The Four Seasons Westlake Village, 2 Dole Dr., Westlake Village, 818-575-3000.