The first thing to know about French toast is that it isn't really French at all. The first piece of bread to be soaked in egg custard and cooked is said to have originated in Rome. Today, just about every country around the globe has their own version of this classic breakfast food. But don't look for "French toast" on the menu in France, because the French refer to it as "pain perdu."
French Toast Recipes
Try these recipes the next time you make French toast and your family will ask for more!
Classic French Toast
This is a very basic recipe and instructions for how to make French toast.
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 8 thick cut slices of white sandwich bread
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Nutmeg, for grating
- Whisk together eggs, whole milk, and vanilla.
- Pour custard into a shallow bowl or pan.
- Place bread slices in custard, allowing it to soak custard up on both sides.
- While bread slices soak, heat a skillet on medium high heat.
- Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Add custard coated bread and sauté until golden on both sides.
- Top with fresh grated nutmeg and serve with maple syrup.
Orange Almond Stuffed French Toast
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons orange liqueur
- 1 can almond filling (not almond paste)
- 8 ounces whipped cream cheese
- 8 thick cut slices of challah
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper (not wax paper).
- Whisk together milk, eggs, orange zest, liqueur, and vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish and set aside.
- Mix almond filling and cream cheese until well combined.
- Place horizontal slits in the bread along the side, about 3/4 of the way through the bread.
- Carefully spread the cream cheese/almond mixture into the slits, splitting it evenly among the eight slices of bread.
- Soak the stuffed bread in the custard, allowing it to fully soak in on both sides - about 1 minute per side.
- Place coated slices on the prepared pan and bake until golden, about 20-25 minutes per side.
At its most basic, French toast is bread that has been soaked in an uncooked egg custard. Once you understand the core recipe, you can experiment with your own variations and flavor combinations.
Making basic French toast involves the following ingredients:
- Cream, half and half, or milk
- Vanilla extract
The amount of dairy to eggs determines how rich the French toast will be. The less dairy, the richer the French toast. For example, you could make a French toast recipe that has several eggs and just a few tablespoons of dairy that would be extremely rich and eggy, or you could make one with a few eggs and a cup of milk, which would lighten the recipe significantly. Most recipes call out for a specific ratio, but you can vary it according to your own personal tastes. As a rule of thumb, add about one teaspoon of vanilla extract per two cups of liquid. A good ratio for dairy to eggs is about 1/2 cup of dairy per every four eggs.
As long as you have the basic ingredients - eggs, dairy, vanilla, and bread, you can add extras or vary flavorings to make wonderful variations on the basic recipe. Try adding the following:
- Almond extract
- Flavored liqueurs
- Fresh grated nutmeg
- Citrus zest
You can also vary the types of breads you use. For example, if you changed basic white bread with challah, the result would be a thicker, chewier version of French toast. Other breads that work well include:
- French bread
- Raisin bread
- Cinnamon swirl bread (or sliced cinnamon rolls)
- Hawaiian bread
- Portuguese sweet bread (Massa Sovada)
- Whole grain bread
While French toast is a classic recipe unto itself, there are various ways of producing it, including:
- Sautéed on the stovetop
- Baked, which cuts down on labor time over the stove
- Stuffed, whether with apricots, blueberries or even chocolate. Try this raspberry stuffed French toast recipe.
- Fruit flavored, mixing syrups and extracts right into the custard
- Mixed with fruits, such as bananas, to become a dessert
- In stick form, as a finger food or buffet offering
Changing the type of bread used can also dramatically affect the way the French toast tastes. Try creating some out of French bread, Texas toast or exotic breads like almond meal for some variation.
French Toast Freezer Tips
For a quick breakfast, try freezing your French toast. Cook your individual French toast slices ahead of time, place them in a freezer storage bag and freeze. When you're pressed for time, simply take out a slice or two and warm them up in your toaster or oven until warm and crisp.
Legendary French Toast
In legend, French toast evolved when food was dear and every bit had to be used - even stale bread. Ancient cooks found that dipping stale bread in a mixture of eggs and milk helped rejuvenate it. They then cooked it on a griddle and served it up, much like today's modern version. Another French toast recipe was reserved only for the wealthiest people of the time because it used expensive white bread and exotic (and costly) ingredients like vanilla and almonds.
Whether you make an easy French toast recipe or try a gorgeous toast version that includes more exotic ingredients, it is sure to become a favorite for breakfast or brunch.