Pain Perdu (French Toast)
June 13: Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua
Islander is not really sure how St. Anthony of Padua became her patron saint. She jokes that it is probably because she lost her mind! When traditional Catholics lose something, the Portuguese-born Franciscan saint, patron of lost articles, is often invoked with a simple rhyme:
“Dear Saint Anthony, please come ‘round.
Something is lost and must be found.”
We found an appropriate dish to prepare on his feast day: pain perdu (“lost bread”). According to Wikipedia, “it is called ‘lost bread’ because it is a way to reclaim stale or ‘lost’ bread. The hard bread is softened by dipping in a mixture of milk and eggs, and then fried. The bread is sliced on a bias and dipped into a mixture of egg, milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. The slices are pan-fried in butter and traditionally served dusted with powdered sugar and jam on the side. Alternatively, it may be served with syrup.”
Pain perdu is associated with St. Anthony and is popularly known as French toast. We eat it for breakfast but the French have it for dessert. Below is a simple recipe for French toast that we have used for many years. Coincidentally, its origins have been lost!
- 10-12 slices of stale French bread or baguette, ½ – 1-inch thick
- ½ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- dash of cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- powdered sugar
In a bowl, combine the milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended. Dip into this mixture the slices of bread on both sides.
In a skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter, adding more tablespoons if necessary. Fry the bread on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve with jam or syrup.
- Waste not! Like pain perdu, capirotada (Mexican Lent bread pudding) is another delicious recipe for using up leftover bread.