Maple syrup does not traditionally list as one of Mid-July’s bounties, but it should, because almost all farmers’ markets across the region have a stand, or a section of a stand, dedicated to family-collected pints of this blue ribbon local food. Only lobster, steamers, cod and maybe Jerusalem Artichokes can rival maple syrup for the longest local legs.
Tim Sullivan grew up in Pigeon Cove, lives in W. Gloucester now, and, most importantly collects maple syrup from maple trees with 400 taps in Weld, ME. What began as a tiny evaporator on a wood stove evolved to a commercial evaporator in a Sullivan-built sugar house. Sullivan and his wife, Ruth, decorate their Rockport Farmers’ Market table with maple leaves every Saturday, and set the liquid gold they collected all through that dark early spring out for people to buy. (Sullivan is also the Rockport Farmers’ Market official bag-piper, and opens every market at 9:00 with a stroll through the vendors.)
Here is a recipe that reminds you to pick up an extra pint or quart of family farm maple syrup at a farm stand or farmers‘ market this week. A make-the-night-before-bake-the-next-morning French Toast dish, this is a wonderful summer breakfast for a houseful of your favorite guests. This looks and tastes golden and delicious, with a maple laced crust on the bottom. If you’re feeling like upping the “local” ante, select a bread from your farmers’ market; Anadama bread would be delicious; just remember to lay it down in one layer, not over-lapping, so that all the pieces absorb the maple syrup. Appleton Farm milk and local eggs would give you locavore bragging rights as this comes out of the oven, although after one bite of this warm, maple-crusted souffle, your family and guests will probably have stopped listening.
Sullivan Farm Maple Syrup Baked French Toast
1 cup maple syrup
1 loaf French Bread, sliced 1” thick
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, divided
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
3/4 cup slivered almonds
- Butter a 13”x9” baking dish. Pour in the maple syrup, and distribute over the bottom evenly. Place the dry bread, round-down, over the syrup.
- In a bowl, combine the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Beat until mixed; pour over bread, pressing to make sure it soaks in.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove bread from refrigerator, and sprinkle with remaining nutmeg and cinnamon, and the sliced almonds. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden and puffy.