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Exploring French Toast (Origins and Recipes)

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Did You Know?

I have several secrets to share with you—Danish rolls did not originate in Denmark. German chocolate cake is not from Germany. Brussels sprouts are not from Belgium. French toast isn’t from France.

It isn't even toast.

French toast has been known by many other names—Spanish toast, German toast, eggy bread, poor knights’ pudding, gypsy toast, and Bombay toast are just a few. In France, it's actually called “pain perdu,” which translates to “lost bread.” And that, as it turns out, is an apt moniker for the breakfast treat that has no real home of origin.

Credit has been given to 4th century A.D. Romans for “inventing” the concept of cooking egg- and milk-soaked bread. But if you give it even a moment of thought, you will recognize that stale bread has been in existence, well, for as long there has been bread. Only the most wealthy would allow food to go to waste. I can guarantee that bread has been granted salvation through soaking for millennia.

Think of It as Bread's Second Life

Throughout Europe, the re-purposing of foods was not just frugal, it was necessary to stave off starvation. Bread is the “staff of life,” and throughout the Middle Ages, numerous ways were found to incorporate that “staff” into meals that would fill the stomachs.

The Brits made bread pudding. The Italians gave us bread soup and bread salad (ribolita and panzanella). Croutons. Stale bread crumbs in meatloaf. And . . . French toast.

Recipes in This Article

  1. Basic French Toast (FT)
  2. FT Rollups
  3. Overnight FT
  4. FT Stuffed With Brie
  5. Cornflake-Crusted FT
  6. Pumpkin FT Sticks
  7. Red Velvet FT
  8. FT Muffins
You can't go wrong with basic French toast.

You can't go wrong with basic French toast.

1. Basic French Toast

This is the basic go-to recipe for the french toast Mom made (or at your local diner).

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 thick slices bread

Instructions

  1. Preheat griddle or skillet over medium heat. Grease well with butter.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the bread, in a shallow dish; whisk well to combine.
  3. Dip bread slices into the egg mixture, coating both sides, and place on hot griddle.
  4. Cook for a few minutes on both sides, until golden brown.
French Toast Rollups

French Toast Rollups

2. French Toast Rollups

These French toast roll-ups turn the ordinary French toast into a fun breakfast for the kids (or the kid in you). Who doesn't like finger foods and dip??

Overnight French Toast

Overnight French Toast

3. Overnight French Toast

This is not your classic french toast. It's actually a bread pudding, but the flavors are spot on. This is a great dish to make for brunch. All of the preparation is done the night before. All you need to do is make the crumble topping and then place this in the oven for about 45 minutes. Your home will smell amazing.

French Toast Stuffed With Brie

French Toast Stuffed With Brie

4. French Toast Stuffed With Brie

I will be the first to admit that I am a bit of an odd duck. Some people daydream of vacations on sunny beaches or hiking a beautiful forest trail, or perhaps sightseeing in an exotic foreign country. I daydream about food. I dreamt this brie-stuffed french toast while on a camping trip.

Ingredients

  • 1 baguette
  • 3 ounces brie, chilled for easier slicing
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, large
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • fruit topping

Instructions

  1. Slice the bread on the diagonal (this gives you larger slices of bread), making the slices about 3/4-inch thick. Discard the ends or save for another use.
  2. Slice the chilled brie into thin slices. Cover one-half of the baguette slices with the brie and then top with the remaining slices (you just made a brie sandwich).
  3. In a shallow bowl, beat together the milk, egg, and salt with a wire whisk until well blended. Dip the baguette "sandwiches" into the milk/egg mixture, turning to coat both cut sides.
  4. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. of the butter; as it melts tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add as many of the baguette slices as will fit in the pan without crowding. Cook until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes). Turn over and cook the other side until brown. Remove from pan and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining butter and baguette slices.
Cornflake Crusted French Toast

Cornflake Crusted French Toast

5. Cornflake Crusted French Toast

Here's an innovative twist on the classic—crisp corn flakes create a crunchy exterior and keep the interior moist and fluffy. My mom made this years (and years) ago and I'm happy to find this recipe for you.

Pumpkin French Toast Sticks

Pumpkin French Toast Sticks

6. Pumpkin French Toast Sticks

Here's another recipe for french toast “sticks.” I'm certain that you could use whole slices of bread as well. Pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice are stirred into the batter. These turn out crisp and flavorful. If you love the flavor of pumpkin you will enjoy these french toast sticks.

Red Velvet French Toast

Red Velvet French Toast

7. Red Velvet French Toast

Perhaps more dessert than breakfast, this red velvet french toast is filled with vanilla cream cheese, dusted with powdered sugar, and then (be still my beating heart) drizzled with Nutella. Mothers' Day isn't that far away. Can you imagine making this for your favorite mom?

French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

French Toast Muffins

Don't let the name scare you away. These aren't really muffins, it's french toast baked in muffin cups. Great for a brunch, and fast enough for busy weekday mornings. And since there is no frying in a skillet, these are healthier.

© 2018 Linda Lum