The Brilliance of French Toast

Canadian B & B Stuffed French Toast

Last night I had dinner at 9:45PM and French Toast was the only reasonable item on the menu.

I know it isn’t healthy to eat so late at night, but I’d had no dinner and just a salad for lunch, so I was going to eat something and my choices were Haagen-Dazs or French Toast.

My son-in-law, Tom, thought it was just weird to eat a breakfast food for any meal other than breakfast. That was almost 20 years ago when he first joined our family.
Now that he knows and loves me, he has given my “default” dinner its own name, Brenner.
I know he’s mocking me, but he does it with charm and a warm smile.

Breakfast is my favorite meal. My Mom fed her kids a fried egg and buttered toast every morning before school.
We now affectionately refer it as The Heart Attack Breakfast.
Fortunately we also ate oatmeal which conquers cholesterol, so it all evened out at the cellular level.
In her defense, she also made us play outside ALL OF THE TIME and her idea of a snack was an apple.
Other mothers made cookies, but our Mom was a stickler about fruit and daytime television.
She was in favor of the former and wouldn’t allow the latter.

My abiding love of breakfast foods is probably responsible for my nighttime addiction to Brenner. I’d have to go through years of expensive Freudian Psychoanalysis to confirm this, but I’d rather spend the money on eggs, bread, and powdered sugar.

This morning when I woke up around 5:30AM my first thought was about The Brilliance of French Toast as a recipe.

I didn’t have anything on my calendar at 5:30AM so I googled the history of French Toast.
Like all roads, it leads to Rome where it was called, you guessed it, Roman Bread.

It was, however, a French invention. That explains its enduring appeal and stylish suitability for daytime or evening.

The French called it Pain Perdu meaning Lost Bread because egg batter could rescue stale bread and frying it in animal fat or butter elevated it to dessert status.

In England it is called ‘the poor knights of Windsor’ and other European countries have a similar name relating it to Knights.
Craig Claiborne shares an old ‘Chef’s tale’ that might explain the name:

One theory about how the latter name came about goes as follows: In olden times, one of the symbols of distinction between the gentry and the common herd was that the former were expected to serve dessert at dinner. Knights, of course, were gentry. But not all of them were rich. Those who were not, in order to maintain their status, made do with armer ritter’, often served with jam.”
—Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Food Encyclopedia, Craig Claiborne

Challah French Toast from The History of French Toast

So history is on my side in the debate over the appropriateness of French Toast for dinner, excuse me, dessert.

It must be my European roots that make me crave it at night.
Or maybe I am suppose to be a Knight.

Just like Pot Roast, Spaghetti, or Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner, your Mom’s French Toast becomes the Gold Standard by which you measure all other French Toasts.
My Mom made it with white bread. Challah being the only reasonable exception to this rule.
We aren’t Jewish so I’ve never had it with Challah, but I did make it with Hawaiian bread rolls with the top crust cut off.
Yum.

The jam topping is where things get sticky. We are powdered sugar people. And it floats atop a sea of melted butter.
Don’t talk to me about syrup. This is French Toast, not pancakes.

About three years ago I had a life changing experience at The Tower Cafe in Sacramento.

Custard French Toast with Seasonal Berries

I had to ask for extra butter AND a small side of powdered sugar, but the custard and berries took me to another dimension of French Toast experiences.
But, at 9:45PM when I am tired and starving I want fast and familiar.
That means:
2 slices of Oroweat Buttermilk bread
2 beaten eggs with a dash of Kosher salt
Enough Wesson oil to cover my large Calphalon (non-tephlon) frying pan
More butter
Powdered sugar

Let bread soak in batter for about 1 minute while frying pan heats up.
Cook until golden brown and flip.
When second side is golden brown remove from pan and put on a warm plate.
Smother with butter and sprinkle on generous amounts of powdered sugar.

Forget the Haagen-Dazs ‘cuz you just had breakfast, dinner, and dessert all with just six ingredients and one pan.

Bon Appetit

4 Comments on “The Brilliance of French Toast

  1. I personally love breakfast for dinner, we rarely had it growing up but I found it to be a great treat. Now if you were with my grandparents on the road somewhere dinner was stopping at a local dinner and getting eggs, bacon, toast, hash browns and coffee (or hot chocolate as I was probably under 12 at the time). My husband however is strictly in Toms court breakfast items are only served at breakfast. Ah well they don’t know what they are missing. Finally say no to syrup, Powdered Sugar is King!

    • At Diners and Dives I order Hot Roast Beef or Turkey sandwiches and eat all the potatoes and gravy because I never make it at home.
      My Dad loved Denny’s Breakfast and there was no other option up for consideration on any road trip. EVER.
      Does your hubby know breakfast for dinner is in the movies? Think Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, or Dame Judi Dench in Tea with Mussolini. If we could just get Judi as M to serve James Bond some scrambled eggs with his martini your husband might be more open to just TRYING it.

      Thanks for dropping by,
      Kelly

  2. I’m a sucker for french toast too, as a quick, easy and delicious start to the day. A thumbs up from a fellow foodie! ~ ayoungfoodie.wordpress.com

    • I wish I was a foodie! I have a granddaughter who just finished Le Cordon Bleu and now I really know what a foodie is. She is undaunted by recipes requiring 22 ingredients, every pan and utensil in my huge kitchen, and all manner of slicing, chopping, grinding, filleting, searing, etc. . .marvelous results and real artistry, but not my cup of tea.
      Is there a variety of foodie that simply eats and leaves the prep to others? If so, check that box for me.

      My friend Patty and I describe ourselves as Utility Cooks: there’s not much art in it, but nobody in the house ever went to bed hungry.
      Enough true confessions.
      Thanks for reading and I’m trying the Lancashire Tart.
      Kelly

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