Served with caramelized pineapple, this luscious morning indulgence was inspired by a breakfast date long ago in Adelaide with one of my biggest influences: artist, author, restaurateur and runner-up of MasterChef Australia’s first season Poh Ling Yeow. On my plate that day was the most amazing coconut-crusted French toast. Goodness only knows why the café we dined in later removed their version from the menu, but I recreated the basic flavors with my own vegan version, and won a competition hosted by television cook Alice Zaslavsky in the process. The recipe itself was never shared publicly in its entirety—until now. Want to know a simple way to increase the natural sweetness in fruit without adding extra sugar? Caramelize it! Not only is this caramelized pineapple delicious in conjunction with this tropical take on French toast, it’s great with oatmeal, on chia puddings and even added to salads!
Coconut-Crusted French Toast [Vegan]
- Coconut oil for frying, divided
- 6 slices fresh or canned-in-juice organic pineapple
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds, finely ground + 3 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- 1 1/3 cups full-fat organic coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup + extra for serving, optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened desiccated coconut
- 6 slices of sourdough or other sturdy bread, sliced just shy of an inch
- Coconut yogurt and finely grated lime zest for serving
- Preheat the oven to 250°F. In a large nonstick skillet/frying pan over medium to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Place the pineapple rings in the pan, and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes per side until browned and caramelized. Place the slices in an oven-safe dish and pop them in the oven to keep warm.
- Rinse out and dry the frying pan so it’s ready to reuse. Mix the chia seeds and water in a small glass bowl. Mix well and briskly with a teaspoon. The mix should start to jell almost immediately.
- Add the chia mix, arrowroot, milk, syrup (if using), vanilla and salt to a food processor/blender and give everything a whizz to combine well. This can also be done by placing the ingredients in a large bowl and whisking to incorporate them.
- Tip the batter into a shallow dish wide enough to fit a slice of bread. Spread the desiccated coconut onto a large plate. Dip both sides of each slice of bread into the batter to just coat it, but do not soak it or the bread will be soggy.
- Place both sides of the batter-coated bread into the desiccated coconut to coat them. Place the nonstick frying pan back onto the stove over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and two slices of the coated bread. Drizzle a small amount of batter over the coated bread slices as they fry to help the coconut adhere to the top of the bread before you flip it over.
- Cook each slice for 4 to 5 minutes until it turns a toasty golden brown color, and use a spatula to flip it over and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.
- When the first slices are done, keep them warm by placing them in an ovenproof dish on the center rack of the oven next to the cooked pineapple slices. Repeat the French toast cooking process, adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan for each 2 new slices of bread, until all the toast is made.
- Serve the slices immediately topped with the warm pineapple, some coconut yogurt and grated lime zest. Add a little drizzle of maple syrup, if you like.
Recipe Note: Gluten-free sourdough bread, or a sturdier gluten-free bread of choice, may be used.