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How about Brunch this week, for the weekend or for dinner? This is so simple, so easy (much easier than making regular old French toast in a skillet or a griddle!) and an elegant treat. Your family will think you’ve really went overboard when all you’ve done is throw some pantry ingredients and day old bread in a skillet. Shhhh…I won’t tell if you don’t!

Upside Down  Caramel Apple French Toast

Upside Down Caramel Apple French Toast

I modified Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Upside Down French Toast for this post; I wanted this to be a dish you could make with what you might have on hand, so no heavy cream here. I also wanted to bring it into sync with my fat/carb ratio and make it a bit more frugal.

By all means, make the actual recipe if you wish, thank you Tyler! His Ultimate French Toast IS amazing. If you want to bring it in on a budget, with about 1/2 the fat, here’s my version.

My pricing for this recipe, this week is $4.60, but I had cranberries I’d gotten for free several months ago with a coupon, so I paid $4.14. For a few cents more, I’ve served it with a “salad” of marinated orange supremes. Simply peel and slice out the orange segments and toss them with a little of my Honey Citrus Vinaigrette. For a different variation, consider some of the variations, below, under Put Your own Spin on It.

Upside Down French Toast, serves 8

  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 7 ounces bread, one small baguette, cut into 1 inch-thick slices, sliced on a diagonal
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, plus more for sprinkling, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 Granny Smith apples, 1″ slices from apple slicer
  • 1/4 cup pecans or almonds or nut of your choice
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a flat dish, crack eggs and add milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Whisk until well combined then lay bread slices in mixture to coat and absorb it all, turning occasionally.

Set a 12-inch skillet, seasoned cast iron if you have, over medium heat. Add the butter and 1 cup sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has melted and caramelized, about 5 minutes, then add the 1/2 cup of water, stirring and bring to a boil. Turn off and begin adding the rest of your ingredients.

While the sugar is melting, peel apples, then use an apple corer to make your slices.

Sprinkle in the pecans and cranberries and gently press in the apple, fanning them in concentric layers. Lay soaked slices of bread over the top so it is completely covered – you should be able to arrange the large slices and small slices so there are no gaps.

Sprinkle the top with some brown sugar and place into the preheated oven. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and puffy. When done, allow to cool for 5 to 7 minutes then invert on a large plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve.

FYI – if your cast iron skillet is not seasoned, the cranberries will react with the skillet and turn black.

Note: Make sure you have a platter large enough to invert the 12 inch skillet on to, and be careful – hot skillet, hot caramel can be a dangerous combination. Make sure you have a clear workspace to set it down on. I use a large rimmed cookie sheet. If the apples are juicy, hot caramel may squirt out as you invert.

Depending on the apples and how juicy they are, there can be variances in how thick the caramel is – While this is always impressive, don’t expect absolute perfection every time.

 

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.

Strategies Applied:

  • Bread:  I wait for baguettes to go on sale, cost 99 cents. The crusty ends I threw into my freezer bag for breadcrumbs later.
  • Eggs:  Eggs are often on sale during almost any Holiday that normally includes baking. I used five, 88 cents a dozen.  Cost for recipe:  37 cents.
  • Milk:  $2.79 a gallon, one and a 1/2 cups 24 cents.
  • Butter:  Stock up during the holiday specials, cost for 1/2 stick at $1.99 is 25 cents.
  • Brown Sugar:  Again, on sale for the holidays, with a coupon, 2 lb for 60 cents, about 5 cups in the bag. 1 cup is 12 cents.
  • Apples:  I used the apples on sale this week at Rainbow, and five apples worked out to 1 lb 12 oz.  At 80 cents a pound, I used $1.40 worth of apples.
  • Cranberries:  On sale on the price gap special, $2.75 for 6 ounces with a game coupon. I used one ounce so your cost would be 46 cents.  (I bought bags for free last year, so that’s a bonus for me.)
  • Almonds:  I found some for $2.99 for 1 1/2 cups.  Watch your prices here carefully, and when shopping for nuts, it really can be worthwhile to bring along your calculator. They’ll likely be nuts in three different places in your store, perhaps four.  The health aisle, the bulk bins, the baking aisle and the snack aisle.  You’ll find them priced by pounds and ounces, so in order to find the best deal, you’ll have to be great at figuring in your head if you don’t have the calculator on hand.  They can seem like a bit of a splurge, but I’m making a real effort to include more nuts in my diet – they are highly recommended for a healhy diet.  My cost for this recipe:  67 cents.
  • Slivered and sliced almonds always cost more.

Nutrition: 

Per Serving: 311 Calories; 12g Fat (34.9% calories from fat); 8g Protein; 43g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 149mg Cholesterol; 211mg Sodium.  Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 2 Fat; 1 Other Carbohydrates.

Put Your Own Spin on It:

  • Make this with any nut you prefer, or vary the fruit.  How about Pears? Perfect for winter. Leave the cranberries out, or substitute some dried fruit of your choice.
  • One of my favorite variations is to use a little Kahlua in the eggs, crushed hazlenuts and no fruit. Amazing.
  • I’ve made this with pumpkin pie spice, leftover from my Pumpkin Spiced Lattes we loved so much this fall, and it was wonderful.

My Pay Off:

A fun change from regular, old dinner, and this brunch dish is great:  it’s quick to get in the oven, then there’s 40 to 45 minutes of down-time.

Upside Down French Toast Made December 2012

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