French toast is a family favorite on weekend mornings, drenched in fresh maple syrup with a side of eggs and sausage. I remember the first time my mom made it for me. I was young; probably in kindergarten, and I had asked her what kind of bread she had made me.
“French Toast, Baby,” she said. It was made simply with Wonder Bread and white eggs. One taste and I was hooked. I remember a lot of my food memories as a child. When I was old enough to use the stove, she taught me how to make French Toast. My dad influenced my need to add generous dustings of cinnamon.
When I make French toast at home today, I typically use brioche bread. Brioche is made with more sugar, butter, and eggs than most sandwich bread. As a result, you get decadently soft, buttery, and fluffy French toast with a hint of sweetness. However, making this with homemade sandwich bread is also a wonderful and delicious treat.
Other bread options include: challah, good old fashioned store bought white bread, and sourdough.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
- 7 ingredients
- Cooks in under 15 minutes
- Crispy and sweet with a custard-like inside
SHORT HISTORY OF FRENCH TOAST
Even though many of us call this classic breakfast French Toast, French toast was not necessarily invented by the French, nor do the French call it so.
French toast is also known as “German toast, American toast, Spanish toast, Nun’s toast, Mennonite toast, Pain Perdu, Perdu, Panperdy, Arme Ritter, Suppe Dorate, Amarilla, and Poor Knights of Windsor” (Olver, 1999). The French call it “pain perdu” which translates to “lost bread”, referring to bread that is stale.
In medieval Europe, the point of soaking stale bread with eggs and milk was to extend the life of bread that has been “lost” to freshness, especially when food was scarce and every bit of animal and plant had to be used.
The origins of French toast can be traced as far back as ancient Rome when it was cooked as “Roman Bread”.
In the cookbook Apicius, French toast is referred to as “Another Sweet Dish”:
“ Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] Fry in oil, cover with honey and serve.”
—Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling , recipe 296 [Dover Publications:New York] 1977 (p. 172)
Whether eaten by the very rich or the very poor, the beauty of French toast is that it can be enjoyed across socioeconomic groups. Today, it can be made with Wonder Bread just as easily as it can be made with Euro Classic Imports Braided Brioche.
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Medium skillet – Use a medium skillet to cook the eggs evenly.
Fork/whisk – For this recipe, I use a fork, but feel free to use a whisk. Many cooks use a whisk to whip air into the eggs for an airy and light texture. I prefer to use a fork because a whisk may put so much air into the eggs that the mixture ends up frothy and light ― if that is your preference, go with this method! Using a fork puts less air into the eggs, creating a smooth and silky texture.
Turner/spatula – A turner or spatula is used on an inverted angle to help gather and chop the eggs as they cook.
- 4 slices brioche bread
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup (60ml) milk oat milk and almond milk also work well
- 2 tbsp butter
- Pinch of salt
- Ground Cinnamon to taste
- Maple syrup to taste
Crack all of the eggs and pour your choice of milk into a medium mixing bowl and season with a pinch of salt salt. Mix or whisk the eggs until none of the white remains.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the butter into the skillet, allowing it to bubble in the pan, but do not burn it.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, thoroughly soaking it through. Carefully lift the bread out of the bowl, allowing some of the liquid to drop off, and lay it into the large skillet. Repeat for the remaining slices of bread.
Dust ground cinnamon over each slice of bread and allow each slice to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip each slice and cook on the other side for 3 to 4 minutes. Dust the tops with ground cinnamon.
Remove each slice from the pan. Serve the French toast with maple syrup and any of your other favorite breakfast items.
- You’re not restricted to brioche bread. Any simple bread from Wonder Bread to homemade white bread to semolina bread to challah.
- You can use any milk to mix with the eggs: oat, almond, walnut, or cashew can add additional flavor. If you don’t want to use milk, add an extra egg!
Olver, L. (1999). French Toast. The Food Timeline. Retrieved from https://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq1.html#frenchtoast
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