One of my family's favorite breakfasts, French toast, also known as eggy bread, is the easiest thing to make. Contrary to what its name indicates, it is believed that its origin dates back not to France but to the Roman Empire as a dish called "Pan Dulcis". The first recorded mention of this famous breakfast recipe dates back to the 4th or 5th Century in a collection of latin recipes called "Apicius".
The name "French Toast" originated in 17th Century England when a man named Joseph French created his version of the dish. Accidentally leaving out the apostrophe in "French's Toast", the name was written as, read as and became popular as French Toast. In fact, in France, this dish is called "Pain Perdu" or "Lost Bread". The names significance lies in the fact that stale bread was used for reasons of economy and also practicality, because stale bread does not fall apart easily once soaked in the egg custard.
There are multiple names and recipe variations of French Toast all across the globe; sweet, savory, stuffed with fruit and Nutella, topped with sugar and maple syrup and so forth. The main thing one must accomplish when making this is to have a golden and crispy outside and a warm and soft inside. This is accomplished with using the right ingredients and technique when soaking the bread and frying it.
The recipe below is the way we eat it in Pakistan, and although I like the North American version with syrup and assorted toppings, nothing brings back childhood memories like this recipe I grew up with. Fortunately for me my children, despite being American, like it this way as well so it is frequently at our Sunday breakfast table. Traditionally, maple syrup is not easily available in Pakistan and until the past decade or so, neither has crusty bread such as French or Italian, so we typically use plain bread slices and add sugar to our egg and milk custard to help sweeten the toast. The sugar helps create a nicely caramelized crunchy outside as the bread slices fry , giving it the perfect taste and texture.
Due to the slightly softer nature of a regular pre sliced loaf of bread, the bread should not be over soaked to prevent it from breaking. The best way to make this Pakistani style French toast is to preheat the oil and frying pan and soak the bread on each side just when it is absolutely ready to be cooked. As the slices are thin and uniformly sliced the bread gets adequately soaked in this short amount of time. Here's the recipe, give it a try and leave a comment if you like it !
INGREDIENTS: (Makes 6 Servings)
⅓ cup milk
12 tablespoons sugar
1. Mix the eggs and milk, whisking well till you have no white left.
2. Add the sugar and whisk some more. You will notice that the sugar seems to settle to the bottom of the egg and milk mixture, let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes so the sugar can dissolve throughout the mixture and whisk again.
3. Preheat the Oil in a frying pan. I used about 2-4 tablespoons per every 3 toasts I fried in my pan (the toast will not be crispy on the outside if you use less) and replenished as necessary for each batch I fried.
4. Using a fork, press the bread slices gently in the custard to completely cover the bread. Flip and repeat to soak the other side. Move gently to the frying pan ( I use my hands so as not to tear the bread which is now very fragile as it is wet).
5. Don't worry if you see some egg mixture cake around the sides, this will cook and stick to the toast by the time you are done frying. The oil and pan must be really hot to start crisping up the toast and starting the caramelization process immediately. It's best to flip only once so wait a good 2-3 minutes, depending on your stove, before you turn the toast over.