French toast

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French toast
French toast served at a restaurant
Serving temperature Hot, with toppings
Main ingredient(s) Bread, eggs, milk or cream

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

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

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


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

Hong Kong

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


  1. Beckett, Fiona (18 September 2010). "Student cookbook: French toast (aka eggy bread)". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Farmer, Fannie Merritt (1918). The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book. Boston: Little, Brown; republished at, 2000. Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Koerner, Brendan. "Is French Toast Really French?". Retrieved 6 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Mille (24 February 2002). "Gypsy Toast". Retrieved 19 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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

External links