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] Bombay toast,[2] German toast,[3][4] gypsy toast,[5] poor knights (of Windsor),[6] or Spanish toast,[4] is a dish made of bread soaked in milk, then in beaten eggs and then fried, a variation from the traditional spanish dessert called Torrija.[7]

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".[8]

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.[9]

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 "golden bread".[10] The term pain perdu was formerly used metaphorically to mean sunk costs.[11]

A fourteenth-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter ("poor knights"),[4][12] a name also used in English[6] and the Nordic languages. Also in the fourteenth century, Taillevent presented a recipe for "tostées dorées".[13]

There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu.[4][14][15]

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.[16]

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.[17]

The cooked slices may be covered with sugar or sweet toppings such as jam, honey, fruit,[18] 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.[19]

The bread may be soaked in various other liquids, such as wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.[20][21]

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").[22]

Hong Kong[edit]

Hong Kong–style French toast

Hong Kong–style French toast is made by deep-frying sliced bread dipped in beaten egg, served with butter, and topped with golden syrup or sometimes honey. It is typically made as a sandwich, with a sweet filling.[23] It is a typical offering in Hong Kong teahouses (cha chaan teng).[24]


Torrija is a similar recipe traditionally prepared in Spain for Lent and Holy Week. 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 (aka 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. ^ Clemente, Esther (20 March 2016). "¿Conoces la historia de la torrija?". Retrieved 8 October 2016. 
  8. ^ Joseph Dommers Vehling, trans., Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, Book VII, chapter 13, recipe 296 full text at Gutenberg
  9. ^ Odile Redon, et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, 2000, p. 207f
  10. ^ Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé s.v. 'pain'
  11. ^ Gabriel Meurier, Christoffel Plantijn, Vocabulaire francois-flameng, 1562 p. 83
  12. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse. 
  13. ^ Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262. 
  14. ^ Austin, T. Two 15th-century Cookery-books, 1888, quoting a 1450 recipe, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary
  15. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-19-280681-5. 
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ Alton, Brown. "French Toast-Food Network". 
  18. ^ "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015. 
  19. ^ Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED
  20. ^ John Ayto, The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, ISBN 0199640246, p. 142
  21. ^ Adam Islip, A Dictionarie [sic] of the French and English Tongues, 1611, full text
  22. ^ (French) Wikipedia article about the pain perdu
  23. ^ "40 Hong Kong foods we can't live without", CNN Go, 13 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-09
  24. ^ CNN Go World's 50 most delicious foods 21 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-10-11
  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]