Sugar runs in Audrey Allard’s veins. “My great-grandmother was a pastry chef so I feel like it’s something in my blood,” she says. With her Northcote bakery Holy Sugar, Allard has forged a reputation built on glossy brûléed tarts, Basque burnt cheesecakes and her signature crullers that can be considered works of culinary art.
“Honestly, I follow my intuition with a lot of things,” she says. “A lot of people when baking have questions like, ‘Is this okay? Should it look like this?’ I think if you just take a step back and follow your intuition, do what you think is right and trust yourself, you’ll be surprised how far you can make it.”
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Take French toast, for instance. A cafe order can come out looking like a complex, labour-intensive showpiece with a long list of ingredients and complicated steps. But Allard’s take is made mostly with ingredients you’ll likely already have on hand. Bread, eggs, cream, milk, and sugar come together with berries and maple syrup for a flavour profile that’s decadent while hitting the right balance of taste, visuals and simplicity.
“I don’t love desserts that are too sweet,” she says. “That’s another thing with the shop – you’ll find that [they’re] not super sweet.”
To make the French toast berry sandwich, Abbott's Bakery Sourdough is dipped in a classic custard, pan-fried and – if you’re up for it – sprinkled with sugar then blowtorched until properly brûléed. A quick compote of zingy blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries tempers the sweetness, while everything is rounded out with a subtle maple syrup-infused whipped cream.
“It’s going to be creamy, caramelly and sour-fresh,” says Allard.
If you want to tone the sweetness down even further, use ricotta in place of the whipping cream. And, if you’re not equipped for blowtorching at home, you can fry the sugar-crusted French toast in a pan and that’ll get you most of the way there.
However you end up making your French toast, Allard says it’s a real all-day treat. “Breakfast, brunch, afternoon tea,” she says. “There’s no rules.”
Audrey Allard’s crème brûlée French toast berry sandwich
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
20g brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
4 slices of Abbott’s Bakery Sourdough White
1 tsp butter for pan
4 heaped tbsps caster sugar for brûlée
½ cup lemon juice
300g cold whipping cream (or ricotta)
2 tbsps pure maple syrup
For the custard, place the brown sugar and cornflour in a small bowl. Whisk to combine. This will prevent the cornflour from clumping. Add egg, cream, salt and spices. Be careful not to add too much nutmeg as it can be overpowering. Whisk to combine.
Dip slices of Abbott’s Bakery Sourdough into the custard. Allow bread to absorb the custard for a few seconds on each side. Set aside.
Place the butter in a frying pan on medium heat – be careful not to burn it. Once the butter is sizzling, add coated bread to the pan and fry for about 4 minutes with the lid on (this will ensure the custard cooks through properly). Once cooked, set French toast aside and sprinkle 1 tbsp of caster sugar evenly over each slice of toast. Blowtorch the sugar (or pan-fry sugar toast briefly) to create a crunchy toffee, and leave to cool slightly.
For the compote, place all the berries and lemon juice into a frying pan on medium heat and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Whisk whipping cream until you reach soft peaks, then add maple syrup. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks.
Assemble your sandwich with the brûléed sides of the French toast on the outside to keep them nice and crisp.
Add some zest to your compote if you're a big citrus fan.
Substitute cream for ricotta if you don’t have a massive sweet tooth.
Make sure your bowl and whisk are both cold to reduce the risk of curdling your cream.
This article was produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Abbott’s Bakery.