How to Make the Perfect French Toast

Updated on September 14, 2017

Perfect French Toast

You can use any number of toppings for French Toast, both sweet and savory. My kids are classicists though, and a little butter and syrup are among their favorite ways to eat this comfort food.
You can use any number of toppings for French Toast, both sweet and savory. My kids are classicists though, and a little butter and syrup are among their favorite ways to eat this comfort food.

This particular recipe serves four people with two pieces each. And yes, I know I say 8 eggs and the picture shows 9 - I tried to get by with it. Honestly - it's fine. It just doesn't matter. Let me explain why.

The basic ratio is one egg and two tablespoons of milk per slice of bread, so this is an easy recipe to adapt to your particular needs. Make as many or as few as you like. My oldest son, Ricky, and I literally made this exact same recipe for a church retreat for the youth, and we served over 200, so this is incredibly scalable.

With that said, if you are whisking by hand, you probably want to work in batches of no more than 12 eggs at a time. It simply gets too physically difficult to whisk the eggs well enough when there is more than that - I learned that lesson cooking for the youth retreat.

However, if you are making large batches, feel free to break out the mixer or food processor or blender - and make the work easy. Just keep the ratio the same, and you'll have no trouble at all.

Perfect French Toast Recipe - Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 slices bread, preferably whole grain or whole wheat, and stale is actually better
  • cooking spray
  • Toppings - powdered sugar, butter, syrup, whipped cream - the sky is the limit!

Perfect French Toast Recipe - Directions

Directions

  1. Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl. Lightly beat them.
  2. Add the milk, salt, vanilla extract, and cinnamon and whisk well to fully combine.
  3. In a large baking dish, arrange the bread. Pour egg/milk mixture over the bread, and allow it to absorb the batter.
  4. Preheat a skillet over medium low heat. Coat the skillet with cooking spray.
  5. Cook the soaked bread slices for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Flip them only once.
  6. Serve immediately.

French Toast - Start the Batter

For each piece of French Toast, use 1 egg. This recipe makes 8 slices of French Toast, so I start with 8 eggs, lightly beaten, for the batter.
For each piece of French Toast, use 1 egg. This recipe makes 8 slices of French Toast, so I start with 8 eggs, lightly beaten, for the batter.

Lightly Beat the Eggs

Whipping the eggs for a moment before adding the other ingredients leads to a better incorporation of the batter, so the French Toast has a better consistency.
Whipping the eggs for a moment before adding the other ingredients leads to a better incorporation of the batter, so the French Toast has a better consistency.

Add the Milk

Add about 1 cup of milk to the beaten eggs, and mix. The usual ratio is about 2 tablespoons of milk for each egg used.
Add about 1 cup of milk to the beaten eggs, and mix. The usual ratio is about 2 tablespoons of milk for each egg used.

Perfect French Toast Recipe - Extraneous (but fun!) information!

French toast, as we think of it in America, is known in France as pain pardu. If you are at all familiar with my articles and videos, you'll know I say constantly that nothing goes to waste in my kitchen. I'm also fascinated with the classic dishes from around the world that developed out of frugality - the need to use the products at hand in order to maximize ingredients.

That's exactly how dishes as diverse as Coq au Vin, Irish Lamb Stew with Guinness and the Biscuits and Sausage Gravy of the Appalachian South all developed. All are dishes designed to maximize every scrap of food coming or going in a kitchen. And all have one thing in common - they are all classic Granny style comfort food.

Anyhow - pain pardu means 'lost bread', and it actually has variations in any number of countries. There are German, Hungarian and Scottish versions, all of which involve making a batter with eggs.

In recent years, French toast has had something of a culinary Renaissance - and you can find recipes that include very high-end ingredients. Some are rather pretentious - like truffles. Some, on the other hand, are pure genius, and one I saw today has inspired me to try a Madagascar vanilla bean and brandy version.

The point is - basic French Toast is a canvas. You can make it sweet or savory as you like. Play with the basic recipe, then experiment as you like!

Just a Pinch of Salt

Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the egg and milk mixture. Salt just intensifies the flavor of the finished dish.
Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the egg and milk mixture. Salt just intensifies the flavor of the finished dish.

Going Over the Top

If you really want a treat - and gilding the lily is one of my favorite things to do - then there are plenty of ways to do so.

  1. Try slicing fresh strawberries, and sprinkling them with a tablespoon of sugar. Allow the strawberries to sit, covered, in the fridge for about 1 hour. Spoon the strawberries and their juices over the French Toast and top with dollops of freshly whipped cream.
  2. After pouring the batter over the bread slices, dip them into finely crushed corn flakes and proceed as usual, although you'll need to lower the heat under the skillet just a bit more. The French Toast becomes extra crispy with a gorgeous crunch.
  3. Swap out the bread for cinnamon bread or raisin bread.
  4. Place a thin 'slice' of cream cheese and two slices of bacon between two pieces of slightly undercooked French Toast, and throw it in the oven at 350F for just at 8 minutes. The cream cheese melts beautifully. Serve with syrup.
  5. Skip the cinnamon, add instead 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the battered bread before placing into the skillet. Top with diced ham or bacon and serve with butter.

As you can see - French Toast is a canvas - play with it as you will!

Real Vanilla

Real vanilla extract adds just a little something. If you want to go all out, try the seeds from one vanilla pod. But a teaspoon of vanilla extract is really all you need.
Real vanilla extract adds just a little something. If you want to go all out, try the seeds from one vanilla pod. But a teaspoon of vanilla extract is really all you need.

Ground Cinnamon

Stir a teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the batter. If you'd like more - go for it.
Stir a teaspoon of ground cinnamon into the batter. If you'd like more - go for it.

The Right Skillet

French Toast tends to stick, so a good non-stick skillet or properly seasoned cast iron skillet is key. Use cooking spray or butter for even better results.
French Toast tends to stick, so a good non-stick skillet or properly seasoned cast iron skillet is key. Use cooking spray or butter for even better results.

The Right Bread - Sturdy, Whole Wheat or Stale Bread

Originally French Toast was made to capture stale bread so that it wouldn't go to waste. The batter can make really fresh bread downright soggy. Stale bread works better, or pick a fresh, sturdy, whole wheat option.
Originally French Toast was made to capture stale bread so that it wouldn't go to waste. The batter can make really fresh bread downright soggy. Stale bread works better, or pick a fresh, sturdy, whole wheat option.

Pour Batter Over the Bread

If you have stale bread, allow the batter to soak for a couple of minutes to fully absorb. If you have really fresh, soft bread, you'll only want to add the batter immediately before putting it into the skillet. Otherwise, you may get mush.
If you have stale bread, allow the batter to soak for a couple of minutes to fully absorb. If you have really fresh, soft bread, you'll only want to add the batter immediately before putting it into the skillet. Otherwise, you may get mush.

Medium to Medium Low Heat

In order to fully cook the French Toast all the way through, keep the heat relatively low. I like just short of medium, to get a golden exterior and fluffy, tender interior, without burning the bread.
In order to fully cook the French Toast all the way through, keep the heat relatively low. I like just short of medium, to get a golden exterior and fluffy, tender interior, without burning the bread.

Flip After 4-5 Minutes

Let the French Toast sit in the hot skillet for about 4-5 minutes before turning. The bottom should turn a lovely, golden brown. Turn it once, and let the second side cook another 4-5 minutes.
Let the French Toast sit in the hot skillet for about 4-5 minutes before turning. The bottom should turn a lovely, golden brown. Turn it once, and let the second side cook another 4-5 minutes.

Almost Done!

The French Toast is ready when it puffs slightly, and is golden brown and crispy on both sides.
The French Toast is ready when it puffs slightly, and is golden brown and crispy on both sides.

Serve Immediately!

Although my kids will throw French Toast in the toaster to reheat it, it is best served immediately. Top it however you like best. In this case, the kids like simply butter and a little maple syrup.
Although my kids will throw French Toast in the toaster to reheat it, it is best served immediately. Top it however you like best. In this case, the kids like simply butter and a little maple syrup.

See How to Make this French Toast Recipe!

How to Make Vanilla Extract

© 2017 Jan Charles

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