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Exploring French Toast (Origins and Recipes)

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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

Comments

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 10, 2018:

Lawrence, I can only dream of having an olive tree. They are so beautiful. Have a wonderful weekend.

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on March 10, 2018:

Linda

Isn't that what a great sauce is all about?

We seem to be having an 'Indian summer' as they say (late and hot) but most of the plants that blossom in Autumn are doing so.

My Lemon tree is full of lemons (not quite ripe yet). The Grapevines in the back yard are pleading with me to eat more grapes (big juicy, and so red they look black) and even the Olive tree, for the first time in six years has olives on it! so, to answer your question, Yes I am looking forward to it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on March 09, 2018:

Lawrence, amazing things are being done now without gluten. I still can't adjust to the taste of the pasta however. It's like eating cardboard. Thanks for stopping by.

Are you looking forward to Autumn?

Lawrence Hebb from Hamilton, New Zealand on March 09, 2018:

Linda

The 'overnight' french toast is a regular at our house, but we treat ourselves to a special gluten free loaf of bread when we do it, it's made by a local Baker, and the bread is so rich, it's almost like eating cake, we call it a 'French toast Bake'

Only pancakes get more votes in this house!!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 27, 2018:

Manatita, I see that you are catching up on your reading (LOL). Thank you and I appreciate your kind words. I enjoy writing (that's why we're here, isn't it?).

manatita44 from london on January 27, 2018:

You write so well and you make your recipes so interesting! The French toast is great and this red velvet with strawberries seems pretty interesting.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 21, 2018:

Kari, of course I like the brie-stuffed toast, but the cornflake-crusted toast reminds me of my mom. I think I'll do that one first. Thanks so much.

Kari Poulsen from Ohio on January 21, 2018:

It was so hard to pick a favorite, they all look so yummy!

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 21, 2018:

I'm back to Pin and Flip this!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 20, 2018:

Audrey, you are lovely and I am certain that your state also has many fine qualities (I actually spent a two-hour layover there waiting for a flight to Alabama) but the humidity absolutely did me in.

On the other hand, we have such a mild climate why don't you come out here? We could get into such mischief together, don't you think?

I love doing the "historical research" part of these articles.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on January 20, 2018:

Have you ever thought about moving to my area? :) On second thought this may not be a good idea. I'd end up gaining a hundred pounds.

I'm crazy for french toast. Thanks for the variety of recipes. Your articles are mouth-watering as well as educational. The photos are magnificent!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 20, 2018:

Bill, you might have something there. I need to look for a peanut butter waffle with chocolate drizzled on top.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 20, 2018:

Now we're talking....French toast with a Reeses candy bar on the side. Breakfast of Champions!

Happy Saturday, Linda! I have to go dig a ditch, so have a great day.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 20, 2018:

Linda, I'll be happy to share with you the link if you want to check it out. My crockpot is small though. I'll try one of those recipes perhaps next month and get back to you.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 19, 2018:

Flourish you've made me so happy. Please let me know which one(s) you try.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 19, 2018:

My favorite! I grew up kinda tolerating it (my mom for some reason adds pepper to hers — not a fan-and it’s none too sweet). However, my husband makes fabulous French toast. I could eat it for every breakfast. I also once had a French toast roll up stuffed with a cream cheese filling that my sister-in-law made but no longer has the recipe for. It was so good. I see several here I’m going to have to try.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on January 19, 2018:

Kristen, in my research I did not run across a crockpot version of French toast. Sounds "somewhat" interesting, but since not all crockpots are created equal (low on one is not the same as low on another one, and they often have hot spots), I would hesitate to recommend it in one of my articles.

If you do happen to make one of these, I'd love to get your feedback. Thanks for commenting. Have a great day!

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on January 19, 2018:

Linda, I love French toast. I haven't had it in a long time. I would love to try to make some of these variations real soon. I did have crockpot French toast casserole last year--it came out all right, though it was hard to cut the French bead in half and such.