Brunch classic goes gourmet with brioche bread, pear topper

If you need an occasional break from your usual breakfast of cold cereal and milk, you'll welcome Jim Stott's attitude.

"I wake up ravenous. For me, breakfast is a big thing," says Stott, who, with Jonathan King, founded and owns Stonewall Kitchen, manufacturer of gourmet food products.

The business executive is a big fan of bread in the a.m. His breakfast arsenal includes English muffins and perhaps one of his homemade breads. He co-wrote the Stonewall Kitchen Breakfast cookbook (Chronicle Books, $19.95).

Although Stott doesn't distinguish between weekday and weekend meals, making each a feast, you may prefer to serve this luscious dish of brioche French toast as a Sunday brunch for two.

Spiced brioche French toast with maple pears

Makes 2 servings

French toast:

1/2 cup milk

3 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 (1/2-inch thick) slices day-old brioche loaf or challah

Maple pears:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon allspice

Pinch of salt

2 ripe Bosc pears, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus extra for serving

1. To make French toast, whisk milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and salt together in a shallow bowl. Dip bread in egg mixture, one slice at a time, letting it sit for a minute or two on each side to soak up liquid.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add the bread, half at a time if necessary to prevent crowding. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until the bread is golden brown and firm at the center.

3. While the French toast is cooking, prepare the maple pears. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon, allspice and salt. Stir. Add pear slices. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pears begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons maple syrup. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute.

4. To serve, divide French toast between 2 plates. Top each with half the maple pears. Pass extra syrup on the side if desired.

Nutritional analysis per serving (without additional maple syrup): 565 calories, 18 grams total fat, 20 grams protein, 83 grams carbohydrates, 362 milligrams cholesterol, 707 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber, 29 percent of calories from fat.