If a movie has Meryl Streep and/or Dustin Hoffman in it, you know it’s going to be good. When I first watched Kramer vs. Kramer, I was blown away by the performances of these two actors. After all, Streep won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for this role and Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor. If you want to be even more impressed, Kramer vs. Kramer won the Oscar for Best Picture and Robert Benton won for Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. It’s pretty amazing for a film to not only be nominated for that many Oscars, but to win more than half of those nominations is no easy feat. Kramer vs. Kramer was also nominated for Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (for the little boy in the movie, Justin Henry), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jane Alexander).
One more fun fact: Kramer vs. Kramer was the highest grossing film in 1979 making over $106 million dollars. Kramer vs. Kramer is about the ugly custody battle between Ted Kramer and Joanna Kramer over their son, Billy. After Joanna leaves her husband, Ted and Billy form a strong bond. When Joanna comes back asking for full custody of Billy, the tension is at an all-time high and the real drama begins.
There’s a great scene in the movie with Ted and Billy, where Ted is taking over one of the many roles Joanna filled for so long: making breakfast. Together in the kitchen, Ted and Billy make French Toast. The scene clearly shows how new Ted is to being an involved father, but it also demonstrates his efforts in being there for his son. Despite Ted trying to exercise his patience, he still portrays a frantic desperation to get breakfast made and have Billy to school on time. As the scene unfolds, Ted says out loud, “Daddy’s gotta bring home the bacon. Not only does he bring home the bacon, but he’s gotta cook it too, doesn’t he?” He then asks where Joanna keeps the pan, to which only Billy knows the answer. Further revealing how detached he is, Ted proceeds to stop Billy from mixing the egg and milk together and tells him “You’re not doing it right. Here, you have to go fast. The wrists. Wrist. So the gunky part gets dissolved.”
As Ted continues to make the French Toast, Billy complains to Ted saying “I don’t like it when it’s in pieces.” To that Ted responds, “French Toast tastes the same whether it’s in pieces or whether it’s whole. Bread is bread. Besides, what you don’t know is that French Toast is always folded. … You get more bites that way.”
The first French Toast scene is a stark contrast to the French Toast scene at the end of the movie. In the second French Toast scene, Ted and Billy make French Toast in a silent, non-chaotic environment. Though quiet, the scene is filled with love and demonstrates how far the two have come in their relationship. The two scenes are important marker points for how the two have developed and how in sync they have become.
The French Toast I made is slightly different than the one Ted makes in the movie. First of all, I used a bowl to soak the bread pieces in the egg mixture, not a coffee mug. I also didn’t use as much milk, get egg shells in the mixture, or fold the bread in half. Instead, I baked homemade egg bread braided loaves and created French Toast bites. As Ted mentioned with getting more bites, when the French Toast is already cut into pieces you get way more bites. Additionally, with the French Toast cut into pieces you have the delicious egg mixture on all four sides of each bite. Though cooking the bites takes a bit longer than sliced French Toast because you need to make sure each side is cooked through, it is well worth the extra effort.
I decided to make several braided loaves versus one big loaf for a couple of reasons: with smaller loaves you don’t run the risk of having a bigger piece of bread dry out with one side being exposed, and for portion control. I’d happily eat every one of these loaves, but divvying them up between each guest is way more responsible.
There’s nothing like warm bread to put a smile on your face. This homemade egg bread is fluffy and soft on the inside while golden and firm on the outside. Better yet, the smell that comes out of the oven when the bread is baking is heavenly. The best part about this meal is how every inch of it is enveloped in eggy goodness. There are eggs in the dough, a double layer of egg wash on top, and each piece is soaked in a tasty egg mixture (this bread is perfect for soaking up flavor). Add cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and vanilla to the mix and you’ve got French Toast bites that even Billy would want to eat.
Homemade Egg Bread French Toast Bites
* Egg Bread: 7-8 loaves / French Toast: One 10″ loaf serves 3-4 people
Homemade Egg Bread
1½ packages of active dry yeast (I used Red Star Brand)
1¼ teaspoons brown sugar (for yeast mixture) + ½ cup brown sugar for dough
1¾ cups lukewarm water
½ cup olive oil
4 eggs (for dough) + 1 egg for brushing on loaves
1 tablespoon sea salt
6½-7 cups all-purpose flour
Kramer vs. Kramer French Toast
¼ cup milk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar as topping
Homemade Egg Bread
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the yeast, brown sugar, and lukewarm water. Whisk together and set aside for five minutes.
2. Add olive oil, four eggs, salt, and the remaining brown sugar. Whisk together until combined.
3. Add flour in, one cup at a time. Each time you add a cup of flour, whisk the mixture together until combined. Do this until you get to the point where you need to use your hands to mix everything together. When dough is no longer liquidy or sticky, knead it on a floured surface until it is smooth. This will take about 5 minutes – you don’t want to overwork the dough.
4. Place the dough in a large, olive oiled bowl (so the dough doesn’t stick to the bowl) and cover the bowl with a wet paper towel. Let the dough sit in a warm place to rise for one hour. I heat my oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, turn it off, let it cool down, and then put the dough in. The dough should double in size.
5. After one hour, check on the dough. Punch it down and let it sit for another 30-35 minutes.
6. Now the dough is ready to be braided. I made about seven loaves with this dough, but you may choose to make two large loaves. Tear off medium-sized balls from the dough and roll it out between your hands. How big you want your loaves to be is entirely up to you. Roll the dough out so that it’s not too skinny, but also not too plump. When you’ve rolled out three strands, pinch the tops together and do a simple braid until you reach the end. Pinch the ends together and you’ve got yourself a loaf!
7. Place each braided loaf onto a baking sheet. Crack the last egg into a small bowl and whisk it until smooth. Brush this egg wash on top of each loaf. Set the loaves aside for one more hour to let them rise again.
8. After one hour, either freeze the loaves or bake them. If you choose to bake them, brush one more layer of egg was over the tops. Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the bread for 20-30 minutes. Because these loaves are smaller, they won’t too long to bake. Let them cool.
Kramer vs. Kramer French Toast
1. Cut a 10″ loaf (or as many loaves as you want to make) into angled slices. Then cut each slice into squares – these will be the bites.
2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
3. Soak the bread bites in the egg mixture, making sure each of the four sides are covered. Place the bites on a hot non-stick pan, flipping each bite with tongs every minute or so until each piece is fully cooked.
4. Sprinkle the French Toast bites with cinnamon, powdered sugar, butter, and maple syrup.
© A Dash of Cinema
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Food Images by Lauren Jessen; Film Stills of Kramer vs. Kramer from Sony