This classic French toast doesn’t seem at all like it’s putting stale bread to use. In fact, it seems quite like an indulgence when made this way, with eggs and cream and more. Here’s how.
French toast, true to its name, originated in France, where it is called pain perdu (“lost bread”), as it’s made with leftover stale bread. You’ll find some variation on the theme in many culinary cultures; after all, what could be a simpler combination than bread, milk, and eggs?
The difference between this and ordinary French toast is the quality of the ingredients. Start with a high-rising white bread—be sure it’s slightly stale, otherwise it will fall apart in the batter. Slice it thick; we found 5/8-inch (15-mm) just about right. Crispy on the outside, toothsome yet tender within, this is the French toast of which dreams are made.–King Arthur Baking
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What kind of bread should I use for French toast?
French toast is customarily made with plain white bread, though there are those who swear by day-old challah or whole grain breads and those who think French toast made with cinnamon raisin bread is just about as close to breakfast heaven as you can get.
Classic French Toast
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon butter plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil
- 6 to 8 (1/2-inch thick) slices bread several days old, or fresh bread left to dry out overnight
- Confectioners’ sugar for serving (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 250°F (121°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, nutmeg, rum, and vanilla. Stir until smooth but not foamy, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a shallow 8-by-8-inch (20-by-20-cm) casserole dish or roasting pan large enough to hold 2 pieces of bread snugly.
- Place 2 pieces of bread in the soaking dish, turn them over, and turn them over again to coat. The entire process should take about 15 seconds; you want the bread to absorb some of the liquid but not to become thoroughly saturated.
- Place the bread in the skillet and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Fry the bread on the second side until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place the French toast on the baking sheet and place in the preheated oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.
- When all the pieces are cooked, serve the French toast on heated plates with extra butter, dusting it with confectioners’ sugar, if you like.
How to make French toast in a waffle ironDid you know that you can make French toast in a waffle iron? After the bread has been soaked in egg and milk (or, even better, cream or melted vanilla ice cream), simply place the slice of bread in your square waffle iron. The result is an interesting combination of two breakfast favorites.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
If you’re looking for a decadent French toast for a special occasion breakfast or brunch, this recipe is the one for you. The exterior is beautifully golden brown with a soft, luscious interior that begs for a light drizzle of real maple syrup and a sprinkle of fresh berries. If you’re lucky enough to have any slices leftover, they freeze very well for a quick future breakfast.
This recipe is perfect just as it’s written. I suggest using Myer’s Dark Rum for richer flavor than provided by a white or gold rum. Texas Toast from our freezer yielded great results. Any shallow dish that holds at least one slice of bread will work—soaking two pieces of bread at the same time (as mentioned in the recipe) speeds up the preparation. We served the rich French toast with warm maple syrup and thick cut bacon.
This is a solid, rich French toast recipe. I was skeptical since it seemed far less simple than my usual go-to French toast, but the addition of the cream and extra egg makes all the difference.
Take note that your bread should be on the drier side to get the best soak without getting soggy. I let my bread sit out on the counter to air dry for the day and night before preparing. These slices absorbed the cream/egg mixture slowly but enough to coat well. I also used some week-old slices right out of the loaf bag (because I had so much cream/egg mixture left over) and those slices absorbed the liquid up too quickly and became soggy. On the griddle it all fried up well, but the dried-out slices were easier to handle and kept a more “puffed” bread texture to them.
Use that rum (or my favorite, bourbon) to enhance the depth of flavors of your French toast. I always think of eggnog while making French toast; a good eggnog plain is nice, but a good eggnog with a little bit of brown liquor stirred in is awesome!
To keep your cream/egg mixture from getting too foamy, try whisking your eggs before you add the other ingredients. Then you can gently stir everything else in, with little effort. If you have a larger skillet or griddle top, you can quickly cook large batches up and keep them warming in the oven until ready to serve.
I served my French toast with skillet fried leftover baked potatoes and beef sausage. When I try this for the next family brunch, I plan to top the French toast with some fresh berries, or if I’m feeling ambitious, a bananas Foster sauce.
Challah is wonderful for rich French toast and I really like the touch of nutmeg that comes through in this recipe. Pillowy with just a bit of chewiness; they make for a lovely breakfast that comes together quickly.
The powdered sugar was a nice addition but it needed more sweetness so I added real maple syrup which was quite nice. They had a fabulously soft interior with a touch of crispness around the edges. I could taste the nutmeg but not the rum or the vanilla.
If I made these again, I would increase the rum and vanilla, and serve with some sliced strawberries on the side as well. I’d also crank the oven up a little higher to 275°F or perhaps 300°F since they’re only in for a few minutes. I sent some over to my neighbors and they loved it! Overall, quite tasty and came together quickly.
So simple and so perfect! This is the perfect rich classic French toast recipe for a quick breakfast or brunch that will wow you, your family, and your guests. Whoever is eating this will love it. A few simple additions make all the difference in the world. Heavy cream instead of milk, vanilla, and nutmeg turned ordinary French toast into something very special. I didn’t have any rum so I didn’t add it. The next time I make this, I will make sure that I have it on hand. Doesn’t a little bit of rum make everything taste better?
I cut this recipe in half when I made it but I came out with 5 slices instead of 3. After I tasted it, I was happy to have the extra slices. I used challah bread for my bread and it worked perfectly. The timing for mixing the egg mixture takes about 3 minutes. I used the same bowl that I used to mix the egg mixture to dip the bread into. I didn’t think it was necessary to dirty another dish and one dish worked perfectly. I cooked both sides for 3 minutes. I topped the French toast with butter and warm maple syrup with bacon on the side. The perfect combination.
I hope you try this recipe and enjoy it as much as my testers and I did!
Originally published April 4, 2021