This French toast, also known as pain perdu, first soaks bread in a sweet vanilla custard and then fries it until crisp on the outside and custardy on the inside. Our new go-to weekend breakfast.
This French toast is the real French deal. (Pain perdu translates to “lost bread,” referring to how this approach beautifully transforms day-old bread into something you’ll want time and again). It leisurely soaks stale bread in a sweet vanilla custard (no cinnamon allowed!) and then cooks it in butter until crisp on the outside and creamy inside. Luxuriously rich and blissfully simple.–Angie Zoobkoff
French Toast | Pain Perdu
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 30 M
- Serves 4
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 slices sturdy white bread, sliced 3/4 inch (18 mm) thick
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 oz), cut into 4 chunks
- Honey or maple syrup, for serving (optional)
- 1. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla and then stir in the milk.
- 2. Soak the slices of bread in the mix 1 at a time, waiting until it’s evenly soaked, about 2 minutes per side.
- 3. In a large-ish skillet over medium heat, melt 1 chunk of butter.
- 4. Transfer 2 slices of bread to the skillet at a time, first allowing any excess milk mixture to drip off. Cook until golden brown and crisp at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes per side. You may need to lower the heat a little to keep the bread from overbrowning.
- 5. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining butter and bread.
- 6. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup, if desired. Devour immediately.
Recipe Testers Reviews
Super rich and decadent is my best description for this wonderful French toast! I was anxious to see the difference between the true French version and our Americanized French toast, and we’re talking night and day. This version is soaked in a sweet custard, not unlike my usual custard, but is cooked in a lot of butter which amps up the richness even more. You won’t find cinnamon anywhere in this recipe, but trust me, you won’t miss it! The exterior had a nice crisp golden crust and the interior was pillowy soft with a very rich custardy flavor. Next add the maple syrup and devour. Then time for a nap!
I used regular whole milk and a loaf of brioche bread, which I cut into 1-inch-thich slices. As this bread is buttery and delicate on its own, I’m sure it added to the overall pastry-like richness of this dish. I also couldn’t soak the bread slices for more than 10 seconds or it threatened to fall apart before I could get it to the skillet. I did need to lower the heat on the second batch to keep what was left of the butter from burning.
The next time, I’ll try a French baguette as it is sturdier in structure and not as buttery tasting. Also, I think the recipe should note that the butter not be added to the skillet all at once, maybe one tablespoon at a time for each batch. By the time the first batch of bread is done, the butter has been pretty much absorbed.
I should stress that I tested this recipe very carefully, following each measurement as written and noting the timings as I worked. Having said that, this is the French toast of my youth, the one my mother made and I copied, never measuring, never following a clock, just knowing what was right.
Every child should have this experience of French toast. It is as different from the frozen microwaveable product as a cup of rich coffee brewed from freshly ground beans is different from instant decaf.
The recipe is easy to follow and virtually foolproof. The end result is a bread that is slightly crusty on the outside with a custard-like texture on the inside. Even one of my cats, both of whom usually disdain human foodstuffs, attempted to steal a piece from my plate.
I used a loaf of sesame seed bread and sliced it myself. The sesame seeds imparted a slight nuttiness to the dish. The bread I chose was fresh even though I usually use day-old for pain perdu. I used whole milk, unsalted butter, and real maple syrup.
I soaked the bread for 2 minutes per side and fried it for 3 minutes per side.
The only difficulty I encountered was that the last 2 slices of bread were a little deprived of the egg mixture. They were still well soaked, just not quite as soaked. If I make it again, I might cut the bread in slightly smaller slices, soak a portion of a minute less, or add a smidgen more milk to the equation.
A second serving of the same dish was topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a few fresh peach slices. The varieties that can be made from the same basic recipe are endless.