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Challah French Toast Tatin

Chef Laurent Gras Recipes

Challah French Toast Tatin

Alta Editions

Fragrant, buttery, caramelized apples, with the texture of candied fruit, complement the sweet, rich, caramelized flavor of French toast, with the texture of custard. The tang of crème fraîche cuts through the richness of the dish.
— Laurent Gras

This Provence-inspired Challah French Toast Tatin recipe is a preview from chef Laurent Gras's multiple IACP award-winning cookbook, My Provence.

4 servings   |   Prep Time: 20 minutes   |   Cooking Time: 2½ hours


For the Baked Apples
  • 6 apples, such as Cortland, Empire, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, or similar firm-fleshed apple
  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) water
  • ¼ cup (50 g) unsalted butter
For the Challah French Toast
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¼ cup (40 g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Cognac or brandy
  • 1 challah bread, preferably stale (only half the loaf will be used for this recipe)
  • 3 tablespoons (40 g) unsalted butter
  • Brown sugar to caramelize the bread (optional)
  • 1 cup (200 g) crème fraîche


For the Baked Apples
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Peel the apples, cut into quarters, and remove the core. In a cast-iron pan or Dutch oven, combine the sugar and the water. Set over medium-low heat and let cook until the sugar melts and dissolves, 3 to 5 minutes. Continue cooking until the sugar takes on the color of medium caramel, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool until the caramel hardens. Arrange the apples over the caramel, leaving as little space between the pieces as possible. Cut the butter into small pieces and scatter it over the apples.
  2. Cover the pan and place the apples in the preheated oven to cook for 1 hour. Uncover the pan, carefully turn over the apples, and continue baking, uncovered, for another hour. At this point, you will need to judge if the apples are caramelized and baked enough. They should be tender, but still hold their shape, and the caramel should have penetrated into the flesh. If necessary, continue baking for more time until the texture feels right, but do not over bake the apples or they may become dry and a bit bitter. Keep aside at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
For the Challah French Toast
  1. Combine the milk with the egg, egg yolk, sugar, and Cognac or brandy in a mixing bowl, and beat with a whisk to combine. From the center of the challah, cut 4 slices about 1 inch (2 ½ cm) thick. The size of the loaves can vary, so feel free to split slices in half if you feel they are too big. Arrange slices on a large, deep platter or baking dish and pour the milk mixture over the bread. Let sit for at least 2 hours at room temperature. About halfway through, flip the slices over so the bread is evenly and totally soaked.
  2. In a large non-stick pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Fry the bread on both sides until nicely caramelized around the edges, and cooked through, about 8 minutes per side. For additional caramelization, you can sprinkle a little brown sugar on each side just before flipping.

To Assemble the Dish

Gently warm the apples in the oven or on top of the stove. Place the French toast in the center of a serving plate, and arrange the apples on top. Spoon the crème fraîche on the apples.

Get this recipe and over 40 other delicious Provence-inspired dishes in Laurent Gras: My Provence, the award-winning online cookbook from renowned chef Laurent Gras, for $9.99.
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