This French toast recipe started out with my desire to use up leftover cornbread and quickly ripening fruit, and wound up as a new go-to brunch dish. The topping you see here — blueberries, nectarines or peaches, and pecans — goes especially well with the golden cornbread, but feel free to improvise with other seasonal fruits, berries, and nuts.
The recipe also happens to be gluten-free with dairy-free options. If you've ever attempted to make gluten-free French toast, you might have found yourself with a pile of disintegrating mush, as most GF breads don't hold up to soaking. Cornbread, on the other hand, works perfectly. I've based my recipe on Southern-style cornbread, which is traditionally gluten-free so you don't need to use a bunch of specialty flours and gums. I do recommend cutting it with a bit of almond flour for a lighter texture, but it isn't strictly necessary.
Gluten-Free Cornbread French Toast with Blueberries, Nectarines, and Pecans
For the cornbread
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or butter
2 scant cups soy milk (or milk of choice)
2 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar
1 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup almond meal/flour (can substitute cornmeal)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the French toast
1 cup blueberries
3 ripe nectarines or peaches, halved, pitted, and sliced
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups soy milk (or milk of choice)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
About 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil or butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Butter, for serving (optional)
Maple syrup, for serving
To make the cornbread (can make a day in advance)
Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan with oil or butter and set aside.
Combine the milk and lemon juice or vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the cornmeal, almond meal (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the milk and eggs until combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let stand 5 minutes.
Give the batter a whisk and pour it into the prepared pan. Bake until golden and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the cornbread and turn out onto a rack to cool completely. If making in advance, wrap tightly and store at room temperature.
Cut the cornbread into 4 squares and then cut each square in half crosswise. You will have 8 slices of bread.
To make the French toast
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Combine the blueberries, nectarines or peaches, lemon zest, and maple syrup in a bowl and set aside.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large shallow baking dish. Soak 4 slices of bread (or as many as will fit in a single layer), turning over once, until they are saturated.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil or butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bread slices, turning over once, until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes total. Transfer the cooked slices to a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices, adding more oil or butter to the pan between batches.
Serve with butter, maple syrup, fruit mixture, and pecans.