French toast

Pain Perdu

Did you ever wonder what they call French toast in France? They call it pain perdu – lost bread – because you lose the pieces of bread in the eggs. In England, they call French toast “eggy bread.” Either way, French toast is popular all over, whereever people eat eggs and bread, because it’s a great way to use up leftover or stale bread and make a quick hot filling cheap meal at the same time.

How to make French toast:

In a medium size mixing bowl, mix 6 eggs with a fork. Add a cup of milk, and mix again. Slice a baguette into thin rounds, or just use slices of store-bought bread. Toss about half the bread into the bowl of eggs, and push the bread under the eggs. Leave it be for about five minutes so it can soak up the egg.

Get out a large frying pan and put in a couple of tablespoons of butter. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, and then put in as many of the soaked bread slices as will fit in the pan without crowding. Let them cook until the egg begins to set in the middle, about five minutes. If they start to burn before that, turn down the heat. You may need to rotate the pan so that the pieces cook evenly.

Meanwhile, put the rest of the bread into the eggs to soak. Slice up some strawberries or peaches and microwave them to make strawberry sauce or peach sauce for the French toast. Or just slice up the peaches and serve them on top of the French toast without heating them.

When the French toast is mostly done, use a spatula to flip them all over so they get browned on the other side. Give them another minute or so, and then use the spatula to turn them out on to a plate. Arrange the other half of the bread in the pan, and cook as before. Keep the first ones covered with a plate or dishcloth so they don’t get cold waiting. Serve hot.

I try to convince the kids to just eat French toast with the fruit sauce or sliced fruit, as I do, but they like to add a little maple syrup or a sprinkling of white sugar too.

Vegan or vegetarian?

French toast is vegetarian but not vegan. If you need it lactose-free, it’s fine to leave out the milk and just use another egg instead. If you use gluten-free bread, this can be gluten-free.

But will French toast keep?

Not really; you can reheat them in the microwave the next day, but they’ll be soggy. They’re best fresh.

Published by Karen Carr

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.

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