Jews have a habit of incorporating the foods of the counties they’ve found themselves in to accommodate the laws of kashruth. So it’s not surprising that many of the foods we eat have names associated with a specific country. However, many have absolutely nothing to do with the county tied to their name. Danish don’t come from Denmark, Swedish meatball? Nope, not invented in Sweden, Brussels sprouts are not native to Brussels and then there’s French Toast.
Sorry, French toast was not created in France. The earliest reference to this breakfast and brunch staple it is from somewhere in the 4th century and was considered a Roman invention to utilize stale bread.
AKA known as pain perdu (lost bread in French) and omelet bread, the most common explanation/legend of how the name included a country is that Joseph French, an Albany, New York innkeeper created the “named” dish (by forgetting the apostrophe and s) in 1724 when he served it as “French Toast” at his hostelry.
French toast is a kid-friendly dish that uses leftover or toasted bread (a better choice than fresh bread as it absorbs liquid faster and better) that typically uses a basic such as milk, half & half or cream and along with a flavored egg mixture it is baked or fried until golden brown and served either plain or with syrup, fruit or even whipped cream. French toast can morph into a bread pudding but that requires more milk and eggs and is another column.
Try adding vanilla or other extracts or liqueur, soaking the bread slices (for various lengths of time) and then baking and or frying in butter, margarine or oil to create a crunchy, golden crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside texture. Different types of bread (challah is always my first choice) can make for different textures in your recipe and I suggest you experiment with French or Italian bread, croissants, sourdough, brioche, cinnamon raisin and/or whole grain bread or whatever on hand.
The end result of your French toast experiment (using the following recipes) should be a slightly crisp outside, creamy on the inside, delicious meal that says “yes” to breakfast any time of day. You can always use a non-dairy substitute for the milk or cream and margarine instead of butter to keep it pareve instead of dairy.
Apple French Toast (dairy)
- 1 loaf of Challah, French or Italian bread, cut into 1½-inch slices
- 8 eggs
- 1½ cups milk
- 1½ cups half & half
- ¾ cup sugar, divided
- 1¼ Tablespoons vanilla
- 5 tart apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
- 2½ Tablespoons cinnamon, divided
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons chopped pecans (optional)
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick spray or grease with melted butter. Place the sliced bread into the prepared pan (it should be a tight fit).
- In a bowl combine the milk, 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, half & half, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and whisk to combine. Pour half of egg mixture bread.
- Place the apple slices over the top of the bread. Pour the remaining egg mixture over the top of the apples.
- Mix remaining sugar with the cinnamon and pecans and sprinkle the mixture over the top of the apples.
- Drizzle the melted butter over the top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until golden and bubbly on top.
- Remove from the oven, cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
My files, source unknown.
Caramel & Pear French Toast (dairy)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 1 cup chopped pecans or almonds
- 3 Anjou pears peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 Tablespoons white sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 12 slices (cut 1-inch thick) French, Italian, or Challah bread
- 12 oz. cream cheese
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup sweetened whipped cream (optional)
- Raspberries, strawberries (optional)
- Grease a 9×13-inch glass baking pan.
- In a bowl combine the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and whisk until combined, set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, butter and boil for one minute, whisk to combine. Pour the mixture into the bottom of the greased pan (set the pan aside but don’t clean it). Sprinkle the chopped nuts on top of the sauce. Do not clean the pan.
- Add the pear slices, water, cinnamon, sugar, lemon juice to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat just until the pears begin to soften. Add the cornstarch and continue to stir until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Remove from the heat and let cool while you spread the cream cheese over 6 slices of bread. Place these pieces of bread, cream cheese-side-up in the pan.
- Divide the pear mixture over the cream cheese-covered slices. Place the remaining slices of bread on top.
- Gently pour the egg mixture over the bread stacks in the pan.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but no more than 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Bake, uncovered for 60 minutes or until the top is brown and slightly puffy.
- To serve, using a spatula, place 1 stack (flip it so the caramel side is on top, onto a plate. Serve with whipped cream and sliced berries.
Modified from epicurean.com
Almond French Toast (dairy)
- 1½ cup slivered or chopped almonds, toasted
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup half & half
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 thick slices French, Italian or challah bread
- 6 Tablespoons butter, divided
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- Grease a cookie sheet with sides.
- In a large bowl combine the eggs, milk, flour, salt, baking powder, almond and vanilla extracts. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture, coating both sides. Place the dipped slices on the prepared sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
- When ready to cook, dip each slice of coated bread (both sides) into the toasted almonds.
- In a skillet heat 3 Tablespoons of butter. Fry the coated bread slices, 2 to 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and serve.
Submitted by Ari Cohn NY, NY modified unknown source
Tipsy French Toast for a Crowd (dairy)
8 to 10 servings
- 2 large loaves of French, Italian or Challah bread
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup whiskey
- 8 eggs
- 2¼ cups half & half
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 5+ Tablespoons butter (for frying)
- Maple syrup to garnish (optional)
- In a large bowl combine the sugar, cinnamon, whiskey, eggs, half and half and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Dip (DO NOT SOAK) the bread slices in the egg mixture.
- Fry both sides until brown adding more butter and slices as they cook. They should be golden on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remember to add more butter to the pan as needed so they bread doesn’t stick or burn.
You may want to wipe the pan before adding more butter and more bread if there are lots of “burnt” pieces in the pan.
My files, source unknown
Cinnamon Raisin French Toast (dairy)
3 servings (2 slices per person)
- 6 eggs
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 thick slices cinnamon raisin bread, toasted (raisin challah works great)
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- In bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk to combine.
- Place bread slices in a 9×13-inch pan and pour the egg mixture over the top. Flip the bread so that both sides are coated and then let them sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In a large skillet melt 2 Tablespoons of butter and fry half the soaked bread slices until golden brown (2 to 3 minutes per side). Repeat until all the bread is cooked.
- In a small sauce pan combine the maple syrup and raisins. Heat until the raisins are just warm.
- Serve the French toast with the raisin maple syrup.
This recipe can be doubled or tripled.
My files, modified from about.com
© Eileen Goltz French toast 14a
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.