French toast

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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 depicts soaking in milk, but not egg.


Under the names suppe dorate, soupys yn dorye, tostées dorées, and payn purdyeu, the dish was widely known in medieval Europe and often served with game birds and meats.[citation needed] A fourteenth-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter ("poor knights"),[4][8] a name also used in English[6] and the Nordic languages. Also in the fourteenth century, Taillevent presented a recipe for "tostées dorées".[9] Italian 15th-century culinary expert Martino da Como offers a recipe. The word "soup" in the dish's name refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop.[10]

The usual French name is pain perdu (French: [pɛ̃ pɛʁdy] (About this sound listen), "lost bread", reflecting its use of stale or otherwise "lost" bread - which gave birth to the metaphoric term pain perdu for sunk costs.[11] It may also be called pain doré, "golden bread".[12] There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu.[4][13][14]

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.[15]


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 are variously added to the mixture. The bread is then fried in butter 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.[16]

The cooked slices may be served with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit,[17] 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.[18]

Alternatively, the bread may be soaked in wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.[19][20]

Local versions[edit]


In France, pain perdu may be eaten as a dessert, an afternoon tea snack ("goûter"), or more rarely as a breakfast.[21]

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong–style French toast

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).[22] Other types of filling that can be found are meat floss, kaya jam, ham or beef satay.[22][23]


French toast is commonly served as a breakfast food in India. It differs from other versions in that it generally omits any dairy or sweet component. French toast is generally made by beating plain eggs (salt is optional) and dipping pieces of white sliced bread in them for a brief soak, after which they are pan fried. During the cooking process, savory ingredients such as fried onions, cilantro leaves, diced tomato, or chopped green chilis may be added. Once the egg is set, the slices of French toast are often served with tomato ketchup.


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]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d Koerner, Brendan. "Is French Toast Really French?". Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  5. ^ Mille (24 February 2002). "Gypsy Toast". Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b 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. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse. 
  9. ^ Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262. 
  10. ^ Odile Redon, et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, 2000, p. 207f
  11. ^ Gabriel Meurier, Christoffel Plantijn, Vocabulaire francois-flameng, 1562 p. 83
  12. ^ Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé s.v. 'pain'
  13. ^ Austin, T. Two 15th-century Cookery-books, 1888, quoting a 1450 recipe, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary
  14. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-19-280681-5. 
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ Alton, Brown. "French Toast-Food Network". 
  17. ^ "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  18. ^ [Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED Citation incomplete, needs improvement]
  19. ^ John Ayto, The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, ISBN 0199640246, p. 142
  20. ^ Adam Islip, A Dictionarie [sic] of the French and English Tongues, 1611, full text
  21. ^ (in French) Wikipedia article about the pain perdu
  22. ^ a b CNN Go World's 50 most delicious foods 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11
  23. ^ "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. 
  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. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]