Now, almost ten ”“ yes, 10! years since I last ate French toast, or what the French call pain perdu (pahn-per-DU: lost bread), I find myself cooking it at least once a week, usually on the weekends, when a big breakfast just begs to be had.
The method for dipping bread into batter and then frying it is a French way of using up leftover bread. I have my preferences when it comes to bread, but I am no bread snob. Even supermarket-type/corner bakery square loaves have their place with me, and in a pinch they work well. However, for my first foray back into French toast after so many years, I wanted good substantial bread. I like my loaves thickly sliced, and if I can slice it myself, then so much the better. I chose a honey-wheat loaf from French Baker ”“ it was soft and felt heavy in my hand.
I flirted with a recipe that involved soaking the bread overnight in the milk-egg batter and then baking it the next morning. But I wanted to go back to the classic way of preparing French toast. Unlike other similar recipes for French toast, I chose a recipe that included a small amount of flour. Flour adds structure, and it helps to crisp up the outside of the bread, while keeping the inside custard-like and soft. I remember that most French toasts I’ve made tasted too “eggy.” I see now that it’s because the protein in the eggs create a “barrier” that prevents the inside from cooking thoroughly, while the outside ends up tasting like a fried egg on a bad day.
With the recipe I used, I got a crunchy exterior and a soft, custard-like interior with just enough bite. Doused with some real maple syrup that a friend had given me (what a treat!), it brought back memories of the very first French toast I ever made. Sometimes when I can’t care less about calories, I smear some Nutella on one side of the French toast and then slap it with another slice. Ooosh ”“ it’s the sound the Nutella makes as it gushes out of the toast.