Guest chef

Debbie Major

Cook, writer and food stylist, Debbie's reputation for foolproof, delicious recipes is second to none. She is renowned for her dedication to seasonal home cooking and her love of all things rustic and authentic. Simplicity over cheffy is her motto!

French toast with vanilla bean ice cream, toffee sauce and bananas

  • Serves 6 (the ice cream serves 12)
  • Prep 50 mins
  • Total time 1 hr 10 mins, plus infusing and churning/freezing
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French toast with vanilla bean ice cream, toffee sauce and bananas
French toast with vanilla bean ice cream, toffee sauce and bananas

step by step

  • 1For the ice cream, slice open the vanilla pods lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Put the milk, vanilla pods and seeds into a nonstick pan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse.
  • 2Put the egg yolks and caster sugar into a bowl and, using an electric hand whisk, whisk for 3 minutes until pale and mousse-like in texture.
  • 3Bring the milk back to the boil, strain onto the egg yolk mixture and mix to combine. Return to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until the mixture lightly coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil or the mixture will curdle. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the cream and vanilla paste.
  • 4Chill until cold, then churn (in 2 batches, if necessary) in an ice-cream maker. Transfer to a container with a lid and freeze until firm. If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the mixture into a shallow container and freeze until almost firm (about 3 hours). Scrape the mixture into either a bowl or a food processor and beat until smooth, then return to the box and freeze again. Repeat this process 3 times, until very smooth, then leave until it has frozen firmly.
  • 5For the toffee sauce, stir the butter and muscovado sugar in a small pan over a medium heat until smooth and bubbling. Add the cream and vanilla, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • 6Meanwhile, for the French toast, slice open the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife and mix into the sugar with your fingertips. Put the milk, vanilla pod and vanilla sugar into a small pan and bring almost up to the boil. Set aside for 30 minutes to infuse the milk.
  • 7Strain the cooled milk into a jug (discard the vanilla pod, or rinse and dry it and add to a jar of caster sugar). Add the eggs and whisk together. Pour into a shallow dish.
  • 8Heat half the butter in a nonstick frying pan. Dip 3 slices of the brioche in the milky-egg mixture, leave for 30 seconds, then flip them over and leave to soak for another 30 seconds. Transfer the soaked brioche slices to the hot pan and fry over a medium-high heat for 2 minutes on each side until crisp and golden. Keep warm. Repeat with the remaining slices of brioche.
  • 9Lift the hot French toast onto a board and cut in half diagonally, then sprinkle lightly with a little extra caster sugar. Arrange on warmed plates and top each with banana and a scoop of ice cream. Drizzle with toffee sauce, sprinkle over the toasted nuts and serve to applause and appreciation.
  • This recipe contains partially cooked eggs.
  • Recipe photograph by Tara Fisher

Get ahead

Make the ice cream the day before. It will keep in the freezer for 3 months. Make the toffee sauce and infuse the vanilla milk for the French toast a few hours ahead.

You will need

For the vanilla bean ice cream

  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks (you can freeze the whites for meringues)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 500ml double cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the toffee sauce

  • 40g salted butter
  • 60g dark muscovado sugar
  • 75ml double cream
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod, or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the French toast

  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 300ml whole milk
  • 4 medium eggs, beaten
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 6 x 2.5cm thick slices brioche, cut from a 400g loaf

To serve

  • 6 small, ripe bananas, peeled and halved lengthways
  • 50g walnut or pecan halves, toasted

+ Nutritional Information