Making Perfect French Toast…

or Pain Perdu (literally translated as “lost bread”) was a way of using up stale bread which would otherwise have gone to waste. Of course, stale bread or not, there is hardly a need for an excuse to make yourself a breakfast (or dinner!) of eggy fried bread topped with honey and strawberries.

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My mother used to make me french toasts for breakfast, it was either this or white bread with a generous spread of butter and a sprinkle of sugar. I remember adamantly refusing the packets of nasi lemak and fried bee hoon that my sisters relished, pestering my mother instead for anything vaguely resembling bread. Even at brunch places now, I find myself gravitating towards the pancakes or sweet brioche mains rather than a hearty skillet of fried bacon rashers with eggs.

With the move overseas, I was scrambling to clear out my closets and perishables in the fridge. Nothing screams French toast more than stale bread, whipping cream and eggs. To top it off, A recently bought a jar of French honey from his Paris trip. Though it is fairly basic with minimal ingredients, the recipe is the result of my numerous weekend French toast experiments. Trust me, the whipping cream makes a huge fluffy difference.

Pain Perdu 

Ingredients:

Stale bread (but not moldy please! I used 2 thick slices of white bread which have been in my fridge for 5 days)

1 large egg (enough to coat 2 slices. Use 2 eggs if your bread slices are huge)

1 teaspoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of whipping cream (this produces the fluffiest texture, though low-fat milk works for those seeking a healthier alternative)

1 tablespoon of butter (I used my favourite Lurpak)

Honey or maple syrup, some berries or stewed nectarines if you’re up for something more fancy.

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Instructions:

1. Whisk the eggs, sugar and cream in a flat roasting tray or any plate big enough to allow your bread slices to soak evenly in. Make sure you whisk till the egg mixture is nice and airy.

2. Start warming up a frying pan and allow the butter to coat the pan evenly. Use half a tablespoon of butter first and reserve the rest for later..

3. Coat the bread with the egg mixture on both sides, do not leave the bread in the mixture for more than a minute or you risk having soggy toasts.

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4. Once the butter in the pan starts to foam, place your eggy slice of bread into the hot pan and allow it to cook, try to avoid moving the bread around too much. Wait patiently for it to brown. I like my toasts slightly charred so that takes about 3 minutes on each side. Flip it to fry the other side whenever yours is ready. Add more butter to the pan if needed for the second slice.

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5. Arrange some fresh berries on your toast and drizzle honey or maple syrup over it to serve.

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Tips:

– the softer the bread, the more it absorbs the egg mixture and the soggier it gets. Hence, stale bread makes a better candidate here. If you only have fresh bread at home, a good trick would be to refrigerate your bread for a day before using it for French toast.

– I have tried both the cream and low-fat milk versions and it does make a difference when it comes to texture. Whipping cream gives volume and air to the egg batter that makes the end result crisp yet fluffy.

– do not omit the sugar, it gives the toasts a nice caramelised sheen and helps to brown it evenly.

– butter is your friend, you don’t want to end up with dry and burnt toast. The pan gets hotter by the time you start frying your second slice so do add more butter, lower the heat if necessary and adjust the frying duration.

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