In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, and orange zest. Cut the crust off the top and bottom of the loaf with a serrated knife. Slice the loaf into 6 1-inch-thick rounds.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Dip 2 bread slices in the egg mixture and immediately lay them in the skillet. Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining slices of bread. Bake the toasts until warmed through and slightly puffed, about 8 to 10 minutes.
To serve, transfer the toasts to a large serving platter or plates and dust generously with confectioners' sugar. Serve with marinated berries or glazed apples and pears.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, citrus zests, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer very gently until syrupy, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the citrus juices. Combine the berries in a bowl. Strain the warm syrup over the berries and marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serve.
Glazed Apples and Pears Compote:
Peel, core, and cut both the apples and pears into 3/4-inch wedges. In a medium bowl toss the fruit with the lemon juice.
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the sugar, orange zest, and cinnamon sticks and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until glazed, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the orange juice, and cook until the fruit is easily pierced with a paring knife, about 1 minute more. If desired, add the Calvados. If cooking on a gas burner, carefully tip the pan toward the flame to flambe the alcohol; if cooking over an electric element, hold a long match near the mixture. Swirl the pan over the heat until the flame subsides. Serve warm.
Tools You May Need
Use extreme caution when igniting alcohol. Remove the pan from the heat source before adding the alcohol. Pour the alcohol into the pan and carefully ignite with a match or click lighter. Return the pan to the heat and gently swirl to reduce the flames.
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