Using relatively shelf stable ingredients, this vegan French toast is perfect for when you’re camping without a cooler.
French toast seems like such great breakfast idea for camping – except for all the refrigerated items you need to bring along. Of course, milk, butter, and eggs will hold up just fine in a cooler. And if you travel with a cooler that’s great. But we’ve spent a lot of time traveling without a cooler so we know how limited that can be.
And that got us thinking: Do you really need milk to make French toast? What about the butter and eggs? Is there a way to do this using shelf-stable ingredients?
Turns out vegans have been making French toast for a long time. And none of the ingredients they use need to be refrigerated. So we borrowed a few ideas and wrapped them up into a camping version of French toast.
The coconut milk and banana combine together to create a unique vaguely-tropical flavor. The coconut and banana also toasted up nicely. The outside of the toast got a great caramelized char to them, while the insides had a coconutty creaminess to them. While it’s not your standard diner-style French toast, this version is a great way to make your French toast a little more exciting.
So if you don’t camp with a cooler or just don’t carry milk, butter, and eggs with you, you should definitely give this recipe a try.
Why It Works for Camping
‣ Unlike most French toast recipes that call for milk, butter, and eggs, this version doesn’t have any ingredients that need to be refrigerated. Sure, bananas don’t last forever and the bread will eventually go bad, so it’s not quite a 100% shelf stable pantry meal. But, it does extend the timeline a little.
‣ Stale bread is actually preferable when making French toast. After a day, a loaf of bread quickly starts to harden. This is no good for making sandwiches, but the increased rigidity is great for French toast. Stale bread retains its shape when soaked and won’t turn to complete mush. Obviously, you don’t want your bread a week old and rock hard. But a few days is perfect.
Mastering the Technique
‣ Slicing your own bread is critical when making French toast. Most store-bought bread is sliced for sandwiches. This is way too thin and often results in tough, rubbery French toast that cooks too quickly for its own good. Buy yourself a nice loaf of bread and cut it into approx 1” slices.
‣ This is sort of a personal choice, but we prefer to use full-fat coconut milk. We think it gives the meal a fuller flavor. However, at cooler temperatures, full-fat coconut milk can solidify. So if it’s a brisk morning, you might have to warm the coconut milk up a little bit. Or, you can avoid that hassle altogether and use reduced fat coconut milk.
In a container large enough to accommodate a slice or two of bread, mash the banana until it's smooth. Add the coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt and whisk to combine. You want this batter to be as smooth as possible.
Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Dip a slice of bread into the batter and let it soak for a few seconds on each side. Let the excess drip off and then fry it in the skillet until golden and crispy on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
Repeat with the rest of the bread, adding more coconut oil to the skillet as needed.
Serve with syrup, fresh blueberries, and shredded coconut. Enjoy!