French toast, known as French pain perdu in France, is one of the easiest to make, cheapest dessert dishes there is. And yet, it’s utterly scrumptious! Legend has is that it was 15th century French King Henry V who made it popular though its origins likely go back to the days of ancient Rome. A 5th century BC recipe book mentions ‘pan dulcis’, bread dipped in milk and egg. It’s very popular in the US where it is known as French toast, possibly because it was introduced by Irish settlers and in old Irish “to French” means ‘to slice’, eg sliced bread. But it’s more likely that it just sounded better than ‘lost bread’ (pain perdu).
My neighbour Claudette uses this recipe for brown sugar french toast every week when she makes it for her family. And, they never think that’s too much! Claudette says this is something she has done for more than 60 years. She uses the rum only on special occasions though!
Brown sugar French toast for 4 people
50ml milk (about 4 tablespoons)
4 Slices of stale bread (or brioche)
50g Brown sugar (4 tablesppons)
2 Tablespoons dark rum (optional – but if you don’t use, add 2 extra tablespoons of milk)
1 vanilla pod (or teaspoon of essence)
Caramel sauce (optional)
How to make
Mix half the sugar and egg together.
Add the rum if you’re using it, plus the extract from the vanilla pod (or essence) and mix. Then mix in the milk.
Dip the slices of bread in the mixture so that they soak the liquid up.
Melt a little butter in a frying pan and place your bread in it. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cook for one minute. Turn and do the same on the other side until the toast is a beautiful golden colour.
Serve warm, delicious with salted caramel sauce and ice cream!
More simple French desserts
Beer tart – a traditional dish of northern France, not remotely bitter but very sweet and delicious.
Oranais – apricot pastries that are great for breakfast or snacks.
Sugary sweet chouquettes – utterly irresistible.