“French toast” is so often the answer to “What do I do with this stale bread?” but it is Thee Answer to “What do I do with these stale hot dog buns?” Stale hot dog buns are spongey, fluffy, and stiff — perfect for soaking up custard while maintaining their structure. Cut them into quarters, and you have the beginnings of the best French toast sticks you’ve ever had.
With grilling season approaching, it’s good to have a contingency plan for leftover buns, especially when you consider that the amount of hot dogs you can purchase in a package is never equal to the amount of buns you can purchase in a package. (It’s a scam to get us to buy multiple packs of one or the other, and it works!)
Anyway. The procedure for making hot dog bun French toast is startlingly similar to making any other French toast. Make custard, dip the bread in it, fry the bread. I cut the buns into quarters to help them cook faster and increase the amount golden, fried surface area your mouth has access to, because that is the whole point. For frying, I use a neutral oil because butter burns before the inside of the French toast has a chance to cook through, and because frying the sticks in oil gives them a doughnut kind of vibe. For best results, use one tablespoon of oil per bun, and wipe the pan out in between batches so the burnt bits don’t colour your next round of sticks.
You can technically use fresh hot dog buns, but I highly recommend staling them, uncovered, in the fridge overnight to help them keep their shape while frying. You can use any custard recipe that strikes your fancy, but I used the same one I always use, and it worked out beautifully.
Hot Dog Bun French Toast Sticks (makes 8 sticks)
- 2 stale hot dog buns, each cut horizontally into quarters
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup half & half
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
Beat everything but the oil and buns together in a bowl, and heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. If your pan is small and can only accommodate one bun at a time, only heat one tablespoon of oil at a time. Dip all sides of each bun quarter into the custard and set on wire rack over a plate to let the excess drip away.
Rip off a tiny piece of custard-dipped hot bun and set it in the oil. Once it sizzles, your oil is ready. Fry the sticks for a minute or two on every side, until they are crispy and golden brown. If working in batches, wipe out the pan after each batch, before adding the next tablespoon of oil. Dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately with maple butter for dipping.