Saturday 21 November 2015

French Toast

Is it just French toast? 

Adopted by France from Medieval Europe, this bread and egg recipe is said to date back to the 4th century, where it is mentioned in the Apicius, the oldest inscribed collection of Latin recipes! At the time, white bread was only for the rich and prepared for royalty; it was referred to as aliter dulcia, or just another sweet. 

Taillevent (born Guillame Tirel), a cook in the royal court of France in the 14th century, wrote the first official cookery book, which mentions the "golden toast."He was later recognised as a culinary genius of sorts. 

While in the 15th century, the French referred to it as "pain perdu" (perdue), the literal meaning being "a lost sentinel"! But in reality, it referred to stale bread, which should not be lost or wasted. 

Fast forward to the 1900's when it was once again revived to glory during the days of World War II. At a time when food rations were acute, stale bread was reused in this very popular way. The Austrians and Germans called it Pavese, representing the "shield" used in battle. 

The Spanish have their very own "French Toast" called Torrija/Torreja, which is very similar in concept, yet the olive oil and spices mark the difference. 

Still fairly popular in Europe, among diners in North America and in other parts of the world, it has seen much transformation and adaptation. It seems to have started off as being a sop—dipped in milk and fried to be served with game meat. Moving on to egg bread, which is now a delicacy for breakfast, brunch, and tea, and is available with a variety of toppings ranging from deli meats to cream and jams, fresh fruit platters, fried eggs, or just plain maple syrup.

This is my daughter Nasha's concoction, which she loves to prepare for her friends since her university days. She has perfected it and shares it for all to try.

Sticky and moist, delicious French Toast with maple syrup  spiced with cardamom

6 slices brioche bread
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup + more to drizzle on
dash of salt
1/4 tsp each of cardamom and nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla

2 tsp salted butter to fry in

Beat the egg and add the ingredients; mix them well. 
Heat a skillet and add half the butter. 
Dip 3 slices of bread into the mixture. One at a time, pan fry them. Turn just once and allow it to cook through. Repeat with the other 3 slices. This should take about 3 minutes on each side on a medium heat. Serve it warm with maple syrup and fruit.


If brioche bread is not available, use any stale white bread. 
Brioche is an egg bread with a hint of sweetness. It adds to the amazing flavour of this very simple dish. 
Use a mix or simply the spice of your choice. Cardamom and nutmeg blend rather well. Cinnamon is another option.

A sop is a piece of bread or toast that is drenched in liquid and then eaten. In medieval cuisine, sops were very common; they were served with broth, soup, or wine and then picked apart into smaller pieces to soak in the liquid. -Google

For more recipes  Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro from

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