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Amazing Pain Perdu French Toast
This is not your typical French toast recipe. This is New Orleans-style French toast, called pain perdu. It is made using thick slices of French bread soaked in a custard batter. It is lightly browned in a pan and then baked golden brown.
Pain perdu means "lost bread." This recipe was a scrumptious solution for what to do with those stale loaves of bread that were about to be "lost" or thrown out.
This recipe is just one of the countless French-influenced dishes of New Orleans, and one of the most delicious.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
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What You'll Need
Your ingredients are pretty straightforward, here's what you will need:
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- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 6 thick slices of day-old French bread (staler bread is fine as long as you can slice it)
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- Optional: powdered sugar
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Make a Custard
A simple milk and egg custard is the secret to a great pain perdu recipe. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
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Slice the Bread
Slice the French bread into thick slices, at least 1-inch thick. You can use a whole-grain French loaf, but basically, any French or Italian loaf should work nicely. Slice at a slight angle to make a longer piece of bread.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Soaking the Bread in the Custard
Soak each slice in the egg custard mixture. Turn the slices until all the mixture has been absorbed into the bread. Depending on how stale the bread is, this may take from 5 to 10 minutes. The secret to this recipe is to completely saturate the bread. This is why thick slices of stale bread are used since thinner fresh bread would fall apart too easily.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
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Lightly Brown the Bread Before Baking
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat, very lightly brown the slices in the butter and oil for about 2 minutes per side. Don't make it too dark as most of the browning will occur in the oven as the French toast bakes.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
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Put the French Toast in the Hot Oven
From the frying pan or skillet, transfer to a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
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Turn Over the Slices and Finish the Baking
After 10 minutes remove from the oven, turn over, and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes to brown on the other side.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Remove from Heat
After 10 minutes on one side and 5 on the other, the custard should be cooked on the inside, and the French toast will be crisp on the outside.
If it looks like it needs more time, cook it longer, but be careful not to cook it to the point that it gets very dark. You do not want the egg custard to become bitter, which can happen with overcooking.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
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Dress It and Serve It
Traditionally, pain perdu is served with powdered sugar sprinkled over the top. If you want it to look like it would in the French Quarter, then dust away and dig in. You can also serve it with maple syrup or fruit sauces like jellies, jams, or marmalades.