You won't believe how easy it is to give French toast a crackly, crunchy caramelized sugar coating. This breakfast or brunch recipe works best with day-old bread. If using fresh bread, reduce the soaking time by half.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and a large pinch of salt. Add 4 slices of bread in a single layer and let soak 1 minute. Flip bread and sprinkle each evenly with 2 to 3 teaspoons of granulated sugar, pressing gently to adhere.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Lift bread from egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Add to pan, sugar side down. Reduce heat to medium. Sprinkle each slice with 2 to 3 teaspoons granulated sugar, pressing gently to adhere. Cook until a crust forms on the bottom and the toast is golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and cook until a golden crust forms on the second side, 4 to 5 minutes more. Reduce heat if browning too quickly. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining batches. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with remaining butter and bread. Serve warm with fresh fruit and a dollop of creme fraiche.