French toast

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This article is about the food. For the band, see French Toast (band).
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, also known as eggy bread,[1] German toast,[2][3] gypsy toast,[4] poor knights (of Windsor),[5] or Spanish toast,[3] is a dish made of bread soaked in beaten eggs and then fried.

History and names[edit]

The earliest known reference to French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 4th or 5th century; the recipe mentions soaking in milk, but not egg, and gives it no special name, just aliter dulcia "another sweet dish".[6]

Under the names suppe dorate, soupys yn dorye, tostées dorées, and payn purdyeu, the dish was widely known in medieval Europe. For example, Martino da Como offers a recipe. French toast was often served with game birds and meats. The word "soup" in these names refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop.[7]

The usual French name is pain perdu 'lost bread', as it is a way to reclaim stale or otherwise "lost" bread. It may also be called pain doré 'gilded bread'.[8] The term pain perdu was formerly used metaphorically to mean sunk costs.[9]

A fourteenth-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter ("poor knights"),[3][10] a name also used in English[5] and the Nordic languages. Also in the fourteenth century, Taillevent presented a recipe for "tostées dorées".[11]

There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu.[3][12][13]

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.[14]

Preparation and serving[edit]

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 with milk or cream. Sometimes sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla are added to the mixture. The slices of egg-coated bread are then fried on both sides until they are browned and cooked through. Day-old bread is often recommended by chefs because the stale bread will soak up more egg mixture without falling apart.[15]

The cooked slices may be covered with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit,[16] or maple syrup, or served as a savory dish with ketchup or another sauce.


The bread may be dipped in milk only, with the egg mixture added afterwards.[17]

The bread may be soaked in various other liquids, such as wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.[18][19]

Formerly, the dish was eaten more as a soup than dry.

Local versions[edit]


In France, pain perdu may be eaten as a dessert, a breakfast, or an afternoon tea snack ("goûter").[20]

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong–style French toast

Hong Kong–style French toast is made by deep-frying sliced bread dipped in beaten egg or soy, served with butter, and topped with golden syrup or sometimes honey. It is typically made as a sandwich, with a sweet filling.[21] It is a typical offering in Hong Kong teahouses (cha chaan teng).[22]


Torrija is a similar recipe traditionally prepared in Spain for Lent and Holy Week.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beckett, Fiona (18 September 2010). "Student cookbook: French toast (aka eggy bread)". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Farmer, Fannie Merritt (1918). The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston: Little, Brown; republished at, 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Koerner, Brendan. "Is French Toast Really French?". Retrieved 6 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Mille (24 February 2002). "Gypsy Toast". Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 2006, s.v. 'poor' S3
  6. ^ Joseph Dommers Vehling, trans., Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, Book VII, chapter 13, recipe 296 full text at Gutenberg
  7. ^ Odile Redon, et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, 2000, p. 207f
  8. ^ Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé s.v. 'pain'
  9. ^ Gabriel Meurier, Christoffel Plantijn, Vocabulaire francois-flameng, 1562 p. 83
  10. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse. 
  11. ^ Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262. 
  12. ^ Austin, T. Two 15th-century Cookery-books, 1888, quoting a 1450 recipe, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary
  13. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-19-280681-5. 
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ Alton, Brown. "French Toast-Food Network". 
  16. ^ "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  17. ^ Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED
  18. ^ John Ayto, The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, ISBN 0199640246, p. 142
  19. ^ Adam Islip, A Dictionarie [sic] of the French and English Tongues, 1611, full text
  20. ^ (French) Wikipedia article about the pain perdu
  21. ^ "40 Hong Kong foods we can't live without", CNN Go, 13 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-09
  22. ^ CNN Go World's 50 most delicious foods 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]