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The Irish Boutique - Long Grove, IL (847 634 3540)

Paddy's on the Square - Long Grove, IL (847 634 0339)

The Irish Boutique - Crystal Lake, IL (815 459 1800)


847 634 0339

The Irish Boutique is an Irish import store that has been located in the Chicago land area for over 40 years.  The shop stocks a variety of products ranging from Irish jewelry, crystal, china, food, sweaters, caps, t-shirts and a wide variety of Irish gifts. 

Cooking Blog

Visit our blog to read about Michelle Barry's adventures in cooking and eating Irish cuisine and to learn about new products and upcoming events. 


Is Cake Still Cake When Looks Like Something Else?

john barry

Christmas cake french toast

Happy New Year! No crazy resolutions requiring willpower and acclimation to deprivation here. And no certain answer to the existential questions that still haunt us all. But we’re not worried. We started 2019 with cake.  Literally. As in cake for breakfast. This brilliant idea was not mine (gasp). The credit belongs to Paul, though I was more than willing to bring it to life in the kitchen.  

Christmas cake

We had a gorgeous Italian Christmas cake leftover from our Christmas festivities that we weren’t exactly sure what to do with. The cake itself was light and airy, not dense or breadlike, and it had a wonderful aroma, reminiscent of almonds or some kind of liquor possibly? I wish I could put my finger on it because it was heaven.

Still, after eating pie for breakfast for a few days, it didn’t feel right to eat cake for breakfast for the next few, well, at least not while it still looked like cake. Paul came up with the idea of turning it into french toast because it had that beautiful texture of brioche - which makes the best french toast. I decided to turn it into baked french toast since it’s easier (and how I typically give leftovers the “french toast treatment”). So easy in fact, that there is no “recipe” at all. Here’s what I did.

I took the cake, cubed it, placed the cubes in a casserole dish and let them sit out all day to dry out a little. Then, just before bedtime, I mixed up some eggs (6), milk (2 cups), cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar (not very much because I was starting with cake!) and poured it over the cubes, making sure they were completely saturated. I drizzled about a tablespoon of cream over the top before covering the dish and putting it in the fridge to soak overnight. When I woke up in the morning, I pre-heated the oven to 375F and baked the french toast, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.

cake cubes
soaking cubes

The result was pretty decadent since it was, um, cake.  Actually, not just cake but cake plus eggs, milk, cream and a little sugar. But let’s not dwell on the details. The important part is that it was SO good. Especially with some bacon on the side to cut the sweetness. The kids, who weren’t into the cake when it was just cake, felt differently about it as french toast and went to town on it. Which I guess makes me mom-of-the-year.  Look at her, she somehow convinced her kids to eat cake and custard for breakfast and they agreed! They even enjoyed it. Woo Hoo! How does she do it? Again, details.  Let’s not get distracted by them.  Isn’t it more fun to think about the fact that you can have your Christmas cake and eat it too? For breakfast no less. It made a perfect one for our last couple of lazy days home for the holidays. Sure, it’s not an everyday breakfast, but I would make it again in an instant for a brunch or even for Christmas. I can imagine just sliding it into the oven while presents are being opened like I’ve done in the past with these cinnamon rolls. Or, if you must, you could make a nice whiskey sauce or creme anglaise and serve this as a dessert (AKA bread pudding).  That would really bring things full circle. Oh the irony…

Christmas cake french toast

Happiest Happy New Year Wishes to everyone.  Be on the lookout for more Irish food in 2019!