What Goes Into Making French Toast

Use any kind of bread you like—fresh or a little stale, sliced thick or thin, plain or swirled with cinnamon and raisins. (You can even usecroissants or banana bread.) Classic choices include thickly sliced eggy breads such as brioche and challah. In France, where this dish is known as pain perdu (lost bread), day-old dry bread is found again when it’s given new life in this way. In fact, many cooks prefer to use stale bread because it soaks up the custard without falling apart the way fresh bread can. What a delicious way to cut down on food waste.

Eggs and milk are whipped together into a smooth mixture in which you dip the bread before cooking. Half-and-half or cream will make a richer custard than whole or skim milk. You can also use non-dairy milks such as almond and coconut. Go one step further and flavor your basic milk-and-egg custard with vanilla extract, cinnamon, or cardamom; sweeten it with sugar or syrup, or even add juice or liqueur to the mix.

Basic Recipe for French Toast

Based on French Toast I

6 thick slices bread
2 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1) Prepare the custard. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and flavorings until completely blended. Use a large bowl wide enough to dip the bread in. You can also pour the whipped custard into a baking dish for easy dipping.

2) Heat a skillet or griddle over medium heat. You want it to be hot enough to form a crust when the custard-coated bread hits the pan, but not so hot that the crust burns before the custard that’s soaked into the bread has a chance to cook.

3) Dip the bread in the custard, turning it to coat completely on both sides. The dryer or sturdier your bread, the longer it can soak. Melt 1 or 2 tablespoons butter in the hot skillet. Depending on how large your skillet is, place one or two slices in the hot butter. Cook until golden brown, then turn over to cook on the other side. You can keep the slices warm on a rack in a 350º F oven until the rest of the toast is cooked.