French toast

French toast
French toast served at a restaurant
Serving temperature Hot, with toppings
Main ingredients Bread, eggs, milk or cream
Cookbook: French toast  Media: French toast

French toast is a dish made of bread soaked in eggs and milk, then fried. Alternative names and variants include eggy bread,[1] Bombay toast,[2] German toast,[3][4] gypsy toast,[5] poor knights (of Windsor),[6] and Torrija.[4]


The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 4th or 5th century, where it is described as simply aliter dulcia ("another sweet dish").[7] The recipe says to "slice fine white bread, remove the crust, and break it into large pieces. Soak these pieces in milk and beaten egg, fry in oil, and cover with honey before serving."[8]

A fourteenth-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter ("poor knights"),[4][9] a name also used in English[6] and the Nordic languages. Also in the fourteenth century, Taillevent presented a recipe for "tostées dorées".[10] Italian 15th-century culinary expert Martino da Como offers a recipe. [11]

The usual French name is pain perdu (French: [pɛ̃ pɛʁdy] ( listen), "lost bread", reflecting its use of stale or otherwise "lost" bread - which gave birth to the metaphoric term pain perdu for sunk costs.[12] It may also be called pain doré, "golden bread"in Canada.[13] There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu.[4][14][15]

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.[16] The word "soup" in the dish's name refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop. In Hungary, it is commonly called bundáskenyér (lit. "furry bread").[17]


Slices of bread are soaked or dipped in a mixture of beaten eggs, often whisked with milk or cream. Sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla are variously added to the mixture. The bread is then fried in butter or olive oil until browned and cooked through. Day-old bread is often used, both for its thrift and because it will soak up more egg mixture without falling apart.[18]

The cooked slices may be served with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit,[19] or maple syrup, or served as a savory dish with ketchup or another sauce.


According to the Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED, the bread was dipped in milk only, with the egg mixture added afterwards.[20]

Alternatively, the bread may be soaked in wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.[21][22]

Local versions


In France, pain perdu may be eaten as a dessert, or more rarely as an afternoon tea snack ("goûter"). It is very rarely eaten as a breakfast.[23]


Torrija is a similar recipe traditionally prepared in Spain for Lent and Holy Week. It is usually made by soaking stale bread in milk or wine with honey and spices. It is dipped in beaten egg and fried with olive oil. This cooking technique breaks down the fibres of the bread and results in a pastry with a crispy outside and smooth inside.[24] It is often sprinkled with cinnamon as a final touch.

Torrijas or torrejas were first mentioned by the Spanish composer, poet and playwright Juan del Encina (1468–1533) in his Cancionero, published in 1496. In "Anda acá pastor" one reads: "En cantares nuevos / gocen sus orejas, / miel e muchos huevos / para hacer torrejas, / aunque sin dolor / parió al Redemptor".[25]

Hong Kong

Hong Kong-style French toast (Chinese: 西多士; Cantonese Yale: sāidōsí; literally: "western toast") is typically prepared by combining multiple slices of bread with peanut butter or fruit jam filling, then dipped in beaten egg and deep fried. It is served with butter, and topped with golden syrup or honey. It is a typical offering in Hong Kong teahouses (cha chaan teng).[26] Other types of filling that can be found are meat floss, kaya jam, ham or beef satay.[26][27]

United States

New Orleans

In New Orleans Louisiana Creole cuisine, French toast is known as pain perdu and is most commonly served as breakfast.[28] The recipe calls for New Orleans-style French bread; the batter is an egg-based custard that may include spirits.[28][29][30] Common toppings include cane syrup, strongly-flavored honey, or fruit syrups; a dusting of powdered sugar is also traditional.[29][30]

See also


  1. Beckett, Fiona (18 September 2010). "Student cookbook: French toast (a.k.a. eggy bread)". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  2. White, Bridget. "Sweet French Toast (Bombay Toast) - Anglo-Indian - Family friendly - Recipe". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  3. Farmer, Fannie Merritt (1918). The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston: Little, Brown; republished at, 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Koerner, Brendan. "Is French Toast Really French?". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  5. Mille (24 February 2002). "Gypsy Toast". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  6. 1 2 Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 2006, s.v. 'poor' S3
  7. Joseph Dommers Vehling, trans., Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, Book VII, chapter 13, recipe 296 full text at Gutenberg
  8. Neill (21 October 2013). "Pass the Garum: Roman (French) Toast".
  9. Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse.
  10. Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262.
  11. Odile Redon, et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, 2000, p. 207f
  12. Gabriel Meurier, Christoffel Plantijn, Vocabulaire francois-flameng, 1562 p. 83
  13. Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé s.v. pain
  14. Austin, T. Two 15th-century Cookery-books, 1888, quoting a 1450 recipe, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary
  15. Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-19-280681-5.
  16. Ulrich Ammon, Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen: die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und Südtirol, 2004, ISBN 3110165759, p. 552
  17. "French toast, az @édes @bundás kenyér".
  18. Alton, Brown. "French Toast-Food Network".
  19. "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  20. [Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED Citation incomplete, needs improvement]
  21. John Ayto, The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, ISBN 0199640246, p. 142
  22. Adam Islip, A Dictionarie [sic] of the French and English Tongues, 1611, full text
  23. (in French) Wikipedia article about the pain perdu
  24. Lepard, Dan (20 July 2012). "Dan Lepard's recipes for Basque butter buns, plus fried milk bread (a.k.a. torrija)". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  25. Cervantes, Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de. "La teatralidad en los villancicos pastoriles de Juan del Encina / Marta Haro Cortés | Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes". Retrieved 2016-03-23.
  26. 1 2 CNN Go World's 50 most delicious foods Archived 2011-10-08 at the Wayback Machine. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11
  27. "香港獨一無二的沙爹牛肉法式吐司" [Hong Kong's unique beef satay french toast] (in Chinese). Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  28. 1 2 Tabacca, Laura. "New Orleans Style Pain Perdu (French Toast)". The Spiced Life. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  29. 1 2 "Pain Perdu". The Gumbo Pages. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  30. 1 2 Mitzewich, John. "New Orleans-style French Toast "Pain Perdu"". The Spruce. Retrieved 25 November 2017.

Further reading

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