Wednesday, September 12, 2012

French Toast or Pain Perdu: A Sweet Start of The Day

A very decadent way to start your day!
Widely known as French toast, but  you also can find it under many other names depending on the region you're coming from. As such, it can be calledGerman toast, Arme ritter, nun's toast, among other names.

The Spaniards call their version torrija.  During the Holy Week which precedes Easter the special bread needed to make torrijas fills bakeries and supermarkets as well as ready made torrijas. Tradition has that it's best to serve this delicacy specially on Thursday and Friday of the Holy Week.

In France, it's is known as pain perdu, which means lost bread. Since the recipe calls for the use of stale bread, it is a clever way to use this bread before it becomes too old and therefore lost.

Historically, it is believed that the recipe goes back to roman days. The Romans used to soak bread in milk and beaten eggs the fry it in oil and sweeten it with honey. The french recuperated the recipe calling it pain à la Romaine or Roman style bread.

The recipe became more popular and important during the medieaval era, as european used  stale bread to create dishes that could feed their families and the popular delicacy became known as pain perdu.

The dish followed Europeans settlers into the New World and with time, this simple yet delectable dish traveled the world, served especially as a breakfast or a dessert after a nice but preferably light meal!

French toast is one of my favorite way to start the morning, especially during the weekends. After all you need to pamper and indulge yourself after a long week of hard work, you need it and deserve it.

The recipe is very flexible and lends itself well to variations. I make many kinds of variations to the basic recipe. If you are in a hurry or feeling a tad lazy, just sprinkle some sugar and cinnamon on top, or you can serve with caramel sauce and if you feel the need to indulge yourself more, make some elaborate toppings with fruits, cream and cream cheese.

One day, my dear friend Ralf told me that the best french toast he had was the one he had in Bali which was served  with maple syrup, strawberries, mascarpone cheese and topped with chocolate shavings. Just examining the ingredients by themselves you know you are in for a exquisite treat, and I had to do it!  I tried to figure out what was the best way to bring these ingredients together and I tested it. The result was beyond my expectations!! It's now a favorite of mine!

If you want to create this decadent french toast you will need:
  • 6 brioche slices (I serve 2 per pesron)
  • 300 ml of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp of liquid caramel
(These ingredients will serve 3 to 4 persons depending on how hungry they are)
Few easy steps make the basis of this recipe
Put the milk, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and caramel in a blender, and mix until well combined which  doesn't take more than few seconds.

Pour the milk mixture over the sliced bread. Make sure the slices are all covered but don't soak for too long, a minute or 2 are enough. Put it longer and the bread will start to fall apart.

Melt some butter in a pan and fry the bread untill golden brown on both sides

For the topping you need:
  • About 10 strawberries.
  • 150 g of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 tbsp of caramel sauce
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • Chocolate shavings. You can use dark, milk chocolate, or even white chocolate, it depends on what you prefer. 
Mix the mascarpone with caramel and the maple syrup. If you want you can also add some cream. Add it in its liquid form to make the mix richer, or whipped to make the mix lighter in texture.
Mascarpone cheese is ideal for this recipe
When the toast is ready, drizzle some maple syrup over the golden slices, add the sliced strawberries, a dollop of the mascarpone mix, the chocolate and voila, there you have it an amazing dish just waiting to be eaten.

Please note that the cream will melt quickly if the bread is too hot, so you can wait untill it cools of a bit or just eat it quickly before the cheese melts! Bon appetit.
Best eaten on a calm Sunday morning while watching your favorite show!

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