Sales pitches for combination steam ovens frequently include the assurance that you’ll be able to cook healthier food more easily and quickly.
This is true, but it’s not what we’re going to talk about today, because cooking with steam also has its advantages when making some of the most luxurious and decadent ‘treat’ foods. Think brownies, puddings, breads and pastries – all of which can be done very successfully in a ‘dry’ oven but which benefit enormously from some (or a lot of) steam during baking.
Today’s recipe is similar: making it the regular old way is fine, but if you’re lucky enough to have a combination steam oven you’ll turn it into something so much greater than the sum of its parts. Behold, the Combi Steam Oven French Toast Sandwich. A thing of beauty, no?
To be fair, you may be thinking it doesn’t look all that different from a normal ham and cheese toastie, but you’d be wrong – a combi steam oven renders the whole sandwich almost soufflé-like but without the anxiety-inducing whisking, folding and praying over the oven like you would for regular soufflé.
It’s browned and toasty on the outside, silky underneath and really, really good.
In our house we make French toast sandwiches for dinner because it’s almost too much for breakfast, but I won’t be judging you for eating it any time of day.
Sometimes you need a trick up your sleeve involving pantry staples which can be repurposed into an oozing, cheesy bomb of deeply satisfying comfort food. I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday food but when nothing except melted cheese will do, this is your new go-to.
Steam Oven Ham and Cheese French Toast Sandwiches
- 8 slices white bread I most often use a crusty white loaf. Sourdough isn't great for this recipe – the heavier, denser crumb doesn’t soak up the liquid as well
- 2 tbs Dijon mustard optional
- 16 slices ham thinly cut, I prefer off the bone
- 7.5 oz Gruyere cheese I slice it quite thickly because this is an occasional dish and I don’t like to do it halfway; you’ll need less if you slice thinly
- 6 eggs large
- ½ cup whole milk
- salt for seasoning
- pepper for seasoning
- 1 tbs butter for the fry pan
- Preheat your oven to 400⁰F/200⁰C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 80% steam. If not, don't worry! Just set to combi steam at the correct temperature and your oven will figure out the humidity for you. Line a perforated tray with parchment (baking) paper.
- Make up four ham and cheese (and mustard, if you like) sandwiches. Scant on the detail here because I’m sure you don’t need step by step instructions for sandwich making!
- Whisk the eggs and milk together in a wide, shallow dish which will easily fit a whole sandwich. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place a fry pan over medium high heat and add a little butter to coat the bottom.
- While the pan heats, soak 2 of the sandwiches in the egg mix until it’s absorbed enough to go right through the bread (but not so much it falls apart). You’ll have to carefully turn them over to get both sides soaked. Transfer the soaked sandwiches straight into the fry pan and cook for a minute or two each side until browned, but don’t worry about cooking through. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches, transferring the first 2 to the lined tray once they're browned.
- Transfer the remaining 2 sandwiches to the tray and cook for 10 minutes, or until they’re puffy, oozy and golden all over. Serve immediately.
- The ingredient list is somewhat subjective, you’ll need to increase and decrease quantities of ingredients as you see fit, especially the eggs and milk, as different breads soak up different amounts of liquid.
- If you feel so inclined, there are a multitude of sweet fillings you could substitute for ham and cheese here. Think Nutella, sliced bananas, fresh berries or dulce de leche. Or go all out with an Elvis-inspired sweet and savoury mix of peanut butter and fried bacon. I take no responsibility for your cholesterol levels after eating such a thing, though.
*But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Cook these all the way through in the frypan. Make sure you use a lower heat so they don’t brown too quickly, and a lid will help a lot with making sure the egg is cooked and ham and cheese are hot enough in the middle.