Lost toast

So what would you get if you took some very eggy, buttery brioche, cut it thick, dipped it in a custard of eggs, cream and sugar, fried it up in butter and served it dusted with powdered sugar? One mighty happy family is what. Talk about a breakfast worth climbing out of the rack for, this is it: pain perdue. What the French call “lost bread”, just an extra-indulgent form of French toast.

Why is it “lost”? Because it’s made from stale (i.e., useless) bread (or brioche as the case may be). It’s a modern name for a very old treat that’s at least as old as the Romans:

Slice fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces. Soak in milk and beaten eggs. Fry in oil, cover with honey and serve.

-Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome

Almost exactly the recipe most of us use on Sunday mornings, eh? Of course pain perdue takes the whole thing to the next level fat-wise (gotta love those French). Yet it’s a surprisingly light meal if you use a little moderation, skip the bacon slices and syrup, and serve single slices with fruit. Like a lot of rich things made at home from good honest ingredients, a little goes a long way. One piece pretty much does it for a full-grown person.

Oh, and if you’re wondering where the round slices of brioche came from, It’s leftover dough that I baked up in a tomato can:

Ah, brioche. Just about the most adaptable dough known to man. Just fill a can half-way with unrisen dough, spray it with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until it’s extremely poofy to the touch. Then bake at 375 for about half an hour. Cool it, refrigerate it, slice it into 1-inch slabs, and leave it out to stale on a rack overnight (preferrably 18 hours).

The next day make up your custard. Heat two cups of half-n-half long enough to dissolve 6 tablespoons of sugar. Allow to cool, then stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla, plus two eggs and two egg yolks that you’ve beaten lightly. Dip in the brioche slices and fry in butter on a griddle or cast iron skillet. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, with fruit or a fruit compote. Makes a great dessert too.

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6 Responses to Lost toast

  1. Steven says:

    I’ve fallen in love with brioche after getting a nice mixer for Christmas (it makes the dough so easy!).

    Last week I made a loaf of bread by rolling up cinnamon and brown sugar (much like cinnamon rolls, only shorter and fatter) and letting it rise in a loaf pan as per usual. We didn’t eat it fast enough and the result was stale (but still delicious!) cinnamon swirl brioche.

    This morning I made the best French toast I’ve ever had, with just a little egg, milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Might be too much cinnamon and sugar for some, but I think that’s blasphemy. :)

    • joepastry says:

      Oh yessir, that’s the stuff. Once you start making brioche, regular old French toast just isn’t enough anymore. Now I’m hungry.

  2. jack says:

    One piece? You’re kidding, right?

    • joepastry says:

      Just trying to ensure I can still fit in the ol’ wedding dress, Jack. Oh what a giveaway…forget I wrote that.

      - Joe

  3. Sara says:

    Hi! Great blog you have here –everything looks yummy and very well explained–, congratulations! . Only “pain” is a masculine noun, so the right spelling for the adjective is “perdu”… if I may ;)
    “Bon app’ !” and thank you so much for sharing.

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