Glampfire French Toast by Jessica
The Boehme’s’ went camping! Or glamping? Maybe we actually fell somewhere in the middle as far as terminology may go. We decided to send summer off, (joke’s on us, it’s still pretty summer-like here in the Mitten…), with a distinctly boheme-style summer glamping trip. Chef Creon’s sister, Crystal, had never been camping and we thought it would be a great time to put our ideas to the test. Could we indeed make brunch happen anywhere? Ha, even in the woods?
We stayed at a “primitive” campsite that was mostly secluded at a beautiful family resort in Buchanan, Michigan (shout out Fuller’s! We can’t wait to come back next year!) We kind of joked that we were glamping, but this was a tent and picnic table kind of situation. Sure, we had air mattresses and blankets, but there was no running water, no electricity, and thee umm facilities were a short and rustic walk away. It’s hard to say if we were more concerned about the location of the restrooms or running out of battery power for our devices!
Now we have plenty of notes to share about glamping… We could write three blogs on the awesome tips Miss Crystal researched herself for her maiden glamp… but for now, this little vignette is brought to you by Saturday morning breakfast.
We woke up a little earlier than we normally would have on a regular Saturday am after drinking, but you know; nature, tents, brisk morning air etc.… Crystal and I woke up and warmed up by getting the campfire going again. Oh, that’s a lie. We tried and tried, but needed Creon’s expertise to get the thing going again. He was grump-city at first, but soon we were all back around the fire, warm, woke, and sipping our cold-brew and Irish cream.
Creon and Crystal decided they should go for a little morning hike, so he grabbed his trusty Lake Michigan Walking Stick and they set off on the craggy trail behind our campground. Now mind you, it was just barely 9:00 am, hours before any Boheme brunching would traditionally start… But I was elected to stay at the site and see about breakfast. And somebody had to tend that silly little morning fire!
Creon and I had tried to plan the meals as best we could. We wanted to hit on some camp classics like s’mores and pudgy pies, have elevated meals, use lots of fresh local produce, and cook as much as possible over the campfire. Oh, and their cousin Alexis, an avid Boheme Brunch supporter and pescatarian, would be joining us on the second day. Just like in regular life, we simply tried to stock our coolers with good and tasty things and let the ingredients drive our meals. Spontaneity is the key to our no-rules style. One of the tastiest bites we had all weekend was a zucchini and mozzarella crostini that was 100% not planned. It’s hard to account for absolutely everything you will need, but everyone kept telling us to take extra foodstuffs so we had a little of everything from prosciutto and mozzarella to crackers and tomatoes.
One of the things we had packed was an amazing loaf of cinnamon challah so that we could have a camp version of one of our favorites: Fruit Basket French Toast. French toast is always one of my favorite go-to’s and is so easy to make seasonally relevant with whatever farmer’s market finds we stumble upon. This time it was peaches. As a side note, I can only hope you were able to find your way to a Michigan Peach this summer because they were the absolute best they have ever been. In life. Ever. I digress.
I put a large cast iron pan on our grill rack above the morning fire to get warm and proceeded to slice the challah. I was halfway through the loaf when I realized that we had not brought any actual milk. Or cream. We’re not dairy milk drinkers in general, and we had brought Irish cream for coffee; nothing else required any liquid milk products. It was almost laughable because French toast is such a simple breakfast standard that the thought of not having one of the key ingredients as kind of being in a boat without any oars.
Now, I can see what you might be thinking- calm down, you’ll be fine with just an egg wash, but hey we’re expert brunchers. I knew I could come up with something more spectacular! I kind of meandered around the site looking through the things we had on-hand. As I sipped my coffee I laughed out loud, and probably whooped a little bit, I grabbed the Baileys bottle and was back in business. The creamy sweetness of the Irish cream was just the twist that would elevate my toast this morning. The eggs were already beaten in a bowl, so I tipped the bottle in and got my batter all whipped up! I was a genius, I thought, first glamp breakfast is saved! I couldn’t fail after the amazing grilled turkey breast and buttery red skinned potatoes Creon had created for dinner for us the night before!
It worked so perfectly. I soaked the thick cut bread in the custard while my pan got hot. Ok, I did burn the first batch. I had never cooked on a rustic camp burner before, but once I got the temperature under control, it was almost as easy as being on the gas stove, in my own kitchen.
Once I had all of the custard bread toasted and seared to my liking, I loaded them back in to the big cast iron pan, covered with aluminum foil and let them all rest over the campfire to stay warm while I turned my attention to the peaches.
I sliced the peaches rustically and layered them into a small cast iron pan the best that I could with pats of butter. Had I been caramelizing them at home, I probably would have added brown sugar and a little cinnamon and ginger, but this was glamping. I splashed a bit of maple syrup, and a little water into the pan and let it simmer. The sugars and pectin from the peaches gelled itself together in my little pan, the butter melted and swirled with the sweet pure smell of the juicy fruit. The smell was absolute heaven; so intoxicating. Luckily Creon and Crystal came back just at the right time! Otherwise I may have just eaten those peaches with a spoon, right out of the pot!
We made our plates of French toast and warm peach compote, and garnished with fresh strawberries and maple syrup. There was a surprising smoky “campfire” flavor to the French toast that makes complete sense, because of the way I kept it warm on the wood fire but that was not unpleasant or unwelcome at all. It was truly delish and I can’t wait to have Campfire French Toast again.
Campfire French Toast Recipe:
1 loaf of your favorite bread- either something you’ve made or store-bought: thick sliced
1 c heavy cream, milk or Bailey’s Irish Cream
Olive Oil- for searing toast
For the toast:
1) Crack all of the eggs into a large bowl, add the milk/cream and whisk
2) Add Salt (and Pure Vanilla extract if you have it!)
3) Place the slices into the bowl a few at a time, making sure all the bread is able to soak in the custard
4) Heat your Cast Iron Camp Pan thoroughly
5) Add olive oil to the pan and let get hot, but be careful not to burn the oil.
6) Add the soaked toast to the pan, reduce heat to medium, and let it cook slowly
8-12 Fresh Peaches (feel free to substitute whatever is in season, we might suggest also: apples, blueberries, pears, strawberries, cherries, bananas, anything really!)
½ c butter
¼ c maple syrup
3 tbsp. water
To make the compote:
1) Combine all ingredients in a pan over medium heat and let simmer until desired texture. For these super ripe peaches, I cooked them about 20 minutes. Gently stir the fruit once or twice so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom
We buttered our toasts a little and loaded each plate with a hearty helping of the peach compote. We also had fresh strawberries and maple syrup. Chocolate syrup, hazelnut spread, powdered sugar or whipped cream would have all been delightful as well.