Brunching with Barleywine: Bread-Pudding French Toast

Let the others have their mimosas. Barleywine’s panoply of Maillard flavors find lengthening echoes in this indulgent variation on French toast.

Christopher Cina Jul 24, 2022 - 4 min read

Brunching with Barleywine: Bread-Pudding French Toast Primary Image

Photo by Christopher Cina

Bread-Pudding French Toast

Serves: 6

  • 1 loaf Texas toast
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (237 ml) + 2 Tbs (30 ml) sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (237 ml) barleywine
  • 1 qt (946 ml) heavy cream
  • 6 Tbs (89 ml) butter, softened, divided
  • 1 cup (237 ml) caramel sauce
  • 1 cup (237 ml) toasted pecan pieces
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C). Tear the Texas toast into chunks and toast in the oven until lightly browned, 10–15 minutes. Set aside.

Combine the whole eggs, yolks, vanilla, sugar, salt, and barleywine in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Heat the cream to 160°F (71°C) in a saucepot, then slowly add to the egg-and-sugar mixture.

Butter the inside of a 9" x 5" (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan with 2 Tbs (30 ml) butter. Place the toasted bread in the pan (it will come up over the top of the pan). Carefully pour the custard over the bread. Press the bread on top down into the custard until the custard is all soaked up. Allow to sit for 20 minutes.


Raise the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Cover the bread pudding with aluminum foil and bake for 30–40 minutes, until the custard has set. Remove the foil and bake an additional 5 minutes, allowing the top to brown. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and cool. Slice the bread pudding into ½" (13 mm) slices.

Working in batches, melt a little butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the bread-pudding slices in the butter until golden brown and slightly crispy. Place 3 slices of French toast on each of 6 plates, top with caramel sauce and toasted pecans. Finish with powdered sugar if desired.

Beer Tasting Notes: Broadly, North American beer buffs tend to sort barleywine into two traditions: an American style that’s more bitter and hop-forward and an English style viewed as more balanced, nuanced, and malt-forward. That’s only shorthand, though, because it’s much less about the origin than how it’s brewed—so you’ll have to do the really difficult work and taste it for yourself. A great barleywine is an absorbing and layered flavor experience that embraces deep malt character, frequently showing fruitier notes that can come from a variety of ingredient and process choices, often finishing with a comforting tingle of alcoholic warmth. Complex and full of surprises, it is the archetypal nightcap-by-the-fireside beer—or, what the hell, why not brunch? Let the others have their champagne. Barleywine’s panoply of Maillard flavors are much more likely to find lengthening echoes in richer dishes such as French toast—or this bread pudding variation, which easily absorbs a healthy portion of that malty panoply into its batter.

Beer Suggestions: Pelican Mother of All Storms (Pacific City, Oregon); Anchorage A Deal with the Devil (Anchorage, Alaska); Lost Abbey Angel’s Share (San Marcos, California); Revolution V.S.O.J. (Chicago); Lervig Brewers Reserve Barley Wine (Stavanger, Norway)