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French Toast

French Toast
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What could be simpler? A few eggs, some old bread, and maple syrup — voila! Yes, French toast. This morning stalwart most likely got its name from the French dish pain perdu — “lost bread” — a poetic way to say “stale bread.”

And slightly stale bread is one of the keys to good French toast: a crunchy exterior, with light and airy insides. Essentially, it’s bread soaked in custard and pan-fried — perhaps it was the precursor to bread pudding.

We experimented with loads of different breads and soaking times and found that the following recipe makes exquisite French toast that won’t chain you to the stove. Country-style sandwich bread works well (we used Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse “Country White”) — but brioche or challah bread (sliced 3/4-inch thick) put us over the moon. Lay fresh slices on the racks of your unheated oven overnight, and by morning they’ll be ready and waiting for their big dip.

Toppings

We’re partial to keeping things traditional — just a drizzle of maple syrup — but we’ve been known to occasionally indulge in other French toast toppings as well: heavy cream whipped with a touch of Grand Marnier, a hearty drizzle of Nutella (chocolate-hazelnut spread), warmed for a minute in the microwave, or vanilla yogurt with nuts and fresh berries.

An easy way to add more crunch is to coat the egg-dipped bread in cornflakes before hitting the pan.

And if you want to get really fancy: Dip a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or cream cheese and blueberries) into the egg mixture and pan-toast as directed. Or, omit the vanilla and sugar, and create a twist on the “croque monsieur”: Dip a ham-and-cheese sandwich in the egg and fry it up.

READ MORE: A Vermont family tradition Making Maple Syrup and a selection of maple recipes.

RECIPE

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13 Responses to French Toast

  1. Evelyn McCarthy March 17, 2008 at 11:23 am #

    Being a lover of French toast I will try these recipes. However…I have always cooked my french toast in about a half inch of canola oil…this makes a really crunchy french toast. My family grew up on it and cannot understand why all recipes do not call for deep oil. The one time I had it made my way was in a diner in Roscoe NY…on rte 17…Of course I thought everyone used this method. I have been to many diners and restaurants and am disappointed with it, as they just cook it in a layer of butter…no crisp…Most of the french toast I have had in these places..just lay there..flat out….no amount of syrup makes it taste .. the way I would like it. I have made the ham and cheese one and it is delicious…
    Is there anyone else out there that does it the same way?

  2. perceptivt@aol.com March 17, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    The old Betty Crocker cookbook had a recipe for oven fried French toast – basically baked in a 500 degree oven on a greased pan for 10 minutes. The result is about the same as frying, but the slices hold together well, and you can do a LOT at once without running to the stove to flip, check, etc. Being Vermonters, of course we lavish Pure Vermont Maple Syrup on OUR French Toast!
    Betty Ann Lockhart, Charlotte, Vermont

  3. Deborah Murphy March 18, 2008 at 9:59 pm #

    Yes, I am with Evelyn on this one. I too, prefer to deep fry my French Toast. That is the way my Italian Grandfather used to make it as well. In addition (sorry New Englanders) we NEVER use maple syrup. Just a sprinkling of good old granulated sugar!

  4. DIANE VAUGHAN March 22, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    My husband made them this morning, since we have tried to eat better – I found them heavy – but, we did put fresh maple syrup on them as well as granulated sugar. didn’t have enough butter in the pan – They were good, but can’t have them often – blows the healthy eating off the plate!!

  5. Nancy Ebersole April 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm #

    For variety, I often use Pepperidge Farm’s cinnamon raisin bread. The flavor is wonderful and we only use pure maple syrup in our home. Anything else just makes the french toast wet.

  6. Angela Bird March 5, 2009 at 2:47 pm #

    Growing up in an Italian household, I too, was taught to make it with butter and
    confectioner’s sugar sprinkled on top. Even though I live in New England and love
    the pure VT maple syrup, I reserve that for pancakes and still prefer the confectionary
    sugar on French Toast. Mmmm good – now all this talk is going to ruin my diet, as
    I’m sure I’m make it this weekend!

  7. Eura Olsen March 5, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    As I was reading the recipe I begin to get hungry. I shall try them in the morning.

  8. Nancy Ridgeway March 7, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    I think I would leave out the brown sugar and grate in some fresh nutmeg. I also beat in a tablespoon of flour or so into the milk and egg thereby getting the crunch on the outside.

  9. Joseph Brewer March 17, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    I use Egg Beaters and Splenda with cinnamon for the dip and Pepperidge Farms Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Swirl bread. Then with PAM butter flavored spray in the pan, you can have French toast and still be eating healthy…. I also like a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar on mine.

  10. audie birch March 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    I fry my french toast in bacon fat then liberally butter it and put on the REAL maple syrup from vermont! No dieting in this meal!! Audie B from MA

  11. Cheryl Pfeifer March 18, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    I agree with Nancy Ebersole.Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin bread works great for French Toast. With butter and confectioners sugar.Wow,It just melts in your mouth.I like to save my Maple syrup for the pancakes. I live in Marathon,NY and we have an annual Maple Festival coming up April 2 & 3,2011. We have a pancake breakfast served all day both days. I live in town and when the wind is right I can smell the smokey,maple scent in the air and it makes my mouth water. Cheryl Pfeifer from Marathon,NY.

  12. Ruth Mikkelsen March 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Well, we like to make it with sourdough french bread, fresh eggs, milk, vanilla, and cook it in butter….or bacon grease if we feel really decadent. I also use a little brandy in the mix, which is great. This is the same recipe I use for custard, which uses up at least 10 eggs at a time. Very handy when the fridge has WAY too many fresh eggs. We use Trader Joe’s Grade B maple syrup when we don’t have anymore VT maple syrup left. Oh! And, of course, Cinnamon and Sugar in the big shaker. Nothing much beats Cinnamon Toast!!!

  13. GLORIA P RAPP March 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    I prefer the English toasting bread or sourdough sold in Wally-world (Walmart) roughly 4x 6 inch slices, 1/2 inch thick. I use a non-stick electric griddle with a thin bacon-fat coating that can hold about eight slices. When I first place them on the griddle, I lightly sprinkle powdered cinnamon on them, then when they are ready I flip them over and cover them with Cabot Vermont cheddar sliced about 3/16 thick. When the cheese is melted I serve them with warm real maple syrup… best we can do here in North Carolina is the Canadian from Costco or Sam’s… and of course that local Carolina bacon.

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