One of America’s Favorites – French Toast

November 11, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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French toast served at a restaurant

French toast is a dish made of sliced bread soaked in eggs and milk, then fried. Alternative names and variants include eggy bread, Bombay toast, German toast, gypsy toast, poor knights (of Windsor), torrija and Arme Riddere.

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”). 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.”

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

The usual French name is pain perdu, “lost bread”, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread — which gave birth to the metaphoric term pain perdu for sunk costs. It may also be called pain doré, “golden bread”, in Canada. There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy. 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”).

French toast topped with fruit, butter and cream, served with maple syrup.

Slices of bread are soaked or dipped in a mixture of beaten eggs, often whisked with milk or cream. Sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla may be 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.

The cooked slices may be served with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit, or maple syrup.

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

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

French toast was popularly served in railroad dining cars of the early and mid-20th century. The Santa Fe was especially known for its French toast, and most of the railroads provided recipes of these and other dining car offerings to the public as a promotional feature.

 

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