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French toast.

French toast (eggy bread, gypsy toast in the UK) is a breakfast food in North America, Europe, Bermuda, and a Christmastime dessert in Portugal and Brazil. Typical French toast is made with bread and eggs. Milk or sugar is commonly added. According to what is popular in local cuisine, many of the spices that are added to bread or egg dishes are included in cooking. This versatile dish is often topped with sugar, butter, fruit, syrup, or other items.


"French toast" can be found in print in the US as early as 1871. The Oxford English Dictionary cites usages of "French toast" in English as early as 1660 (toasted bread with wine, orange juice, and sugar), and cites an egg-based recipe of the same name from 1882.

According to the International House of Pancakes, French toast is not necessarily French in origin; it is likely that the recipe dates back to medieval times and may have been a logical “invention” by different peoples, akin to battering and frying any food. Supposedly it was originally known in England and America as "German toast", prior to the First World War, when it was changed because of anti-German sentiment.

In Scotland this could be called the Norma food of the Norma people from the contributions of the Greeks.

A similar dish, suppe dorate, was popular in England during the Middle Ages, although the English might have learned it from the French Normans, who had a dish called tostees dorees.


French toast.
Slices of bread are dipped in a beaten egg and sugar mixture. The slices of egg-coated bread are then placed on a frying pan or griddle prepared with a coat of butter or oil, and cooked until both sides are browned and the egg has cooked through.

The cooked slices can be served with toppings including jam, butter, peanut butter, honey, Marmite, vegemite, maple syrup, fruit syrup, molasses, apple sauce, beans, beef, lard, whipped cream, fruit, tomato ketchup (when sugar is not used), chocolate, sugar, yogurt, powdered sugar, marmalade, bacon, duck fat (in Northern Ireland), treacle, cheese (often with ham), gravy or various nuts such as pecans. Heating the oil or butter with chopped garlic, chillies or onions is effective to add flavor.


Stuffed French toast is two pieces of French toast that are stuffed with bananas, strawberries, or other fruit. It is usually topped with butter, maple syrup, and powdered sugar.

In the United Kingdom it is often savory and known as "eggy bread" or "Gypsy toast" or "bread dipped in egg" in South East Wales. It is sometimes known as "Poor Knights of Windsor". Another name occasionally used is "French fried bread" but this should not be confused with "fried bread", which is white bread fried in butter or fat left over from frying bacon or sausages. One variation has marmite spread on the bread before dipping.In Scotland it is also served with slice sausages served like a sandwich

In Italy a variation is served as mozzarella in carrozza ("mozzarella in carriage"). In this version a slice of fresh mozzarella is sandwiched between two slices of bread and the whole dipped in egg and fried. It can be seasoned with salt, but is not sweet like French toast and is not eaten for breakfast. It is often topped with a tomato sauce, which is then sometimes garnished with some chopped parsley and grated cheese to make three broad stripes of green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag.

In Portugal, it is called fatias douradas or rabanadas and is typically made during Christmas, out of slices of bread leftovers (when it's too hard to be eaten normally) soaked in milk or water to soften it, dipped in beaten eggs, fried in the least amount of vegetable oil possible (to prevent it from soaking up and becoming too greasy) and then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, soaked in a syrup made with water, sugar, cinnamon sticks and lemon skin or in Port or Madeira wine. It is usually eaten cold as a dessert or a snack.

In Spain, it is called torrijas and is typically made during Lent, out of thick slices of bread soaked in milk or wine, dipped in egg, fried and then drenched in spiced honey.

In Canada, the most popular topping is Maple Syrup.

In New York and in Jewish-American communities, it is common to make it with challah. The richness of the sweet egg bread complements the richness of the French toast preparation . In many Jewish-American households it is traditional to use the leftover challah from Friday night Sabbath dinner to make French toast on Sunday morning. The slightly stale challah absorbs the egg or milk-and-egg mixture more readily and cooks into a custard-like center for the slices of French toast.

In the Western and Southwestern US, some restaurants prepare it with Sourdough bread.

In Australia and New Zealand, French toast is a breakfast or brunch dish, made by pan-frying individual sliced bread or baguette slices dipped in the egg mixture identical to American preparations. It is sometimes served with banana and fried bacon, and topped with maple syrup. Another popular variation in New Zealand uses a mixture of eggs yolks, milk and grated cheese to make a savory breakfast food.

In Hong Kongmarker, French toast, called 西多士 (Cantonese ; Jyutping: sai1 do1 si2; Mandarin Pinyin: xīduōshì; "western toast", but actually an abbreviation of "法蘭西多士", "French toast"), is available all day round but is particularly popular for breakfast and afternoon tea in Hong Kong-style western restaurants and cha chaan tengs. It is made by deep frying stacked sliced bread dipped in beaten egg or soy, and served with a slab of butter and topped with golden syrup, or sometimes honey. Two slices are normally used and a sweet filling is usually added, either peanut butter, kaya, or more rarely jam. In other non-Cantonese speaking parts of Greater China, it is usually called 吐司 (Pinyin: tǔsī; literally "toast").

In Brazil it is "rabanadas" and follows the Portuguese recipe. It is quite often used to celebrate a birth, as well as at Christmas and New Year celebrations. French Toast can also be served at pre-Carnivale parties in tradition with Brazilian folklore.

In Germany, the Arme Ritter (poor knights) are made from bread leftovers as a fast and simple meal. There are several local alternatives in serving: with a mix of sugar and cinnamon, filled with plum-jam or with vanilla sauce. Sometimes it is made with wine instead of milk, and therefore called Betrunkene Jungfrau, drunken virgin.

In the Netherlands, it is "Wentelteefjes" and is made from bread leftovers with milk and a mix of sugar and cinnamon, baked in butter.

In Hungary, it is "Bundáskenyér" (Coated bread) and is made with salt and pepper, and usually served with onions and tomatoes, mayonnaise, or ketchup. People usually eat for breakfast on weekends or for dinner.

In India, the version is salted rather than sweet. The egg is beaten with milk, salt, green chili and chopped onion. Bread is dunked into this mixture and is deep fried in butter or cooking oil. It is served with ketchup.

Pain perdu

In France, Belgium, New Orleansmarker, Acadiana, Newfoundland and the Congo a similar but distinctive food is called pain perdu, or "lost bread", since it is a way to reclaim stale, "lost", bread: hard bread is softened by dipping in a mixture of milk and eggs, then deep 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 with jam on the side. Alternatively it may be served with syrup.

New Orleans pain perdu is a local variation of French toast made from left over New Orleans-style French bread, which resembles a French baguette, but has a crunchier exterior and a lighter interior.

History and geographical spread

Where a stale, crunchy bread might seem unappetizing, using the bread in cooking solves the problem without waste. One way is to soak the bread in eggs and fry it. The origins of the recipe are unknown, although a version appears in the 4th century Roman cookbook, often attributed to Apicius ("Aliter dulcia: siligineos rasos frangis, et buccellas maiores facies. in lacte infundis, frigis [et] in oleo, mel superfundis et inferes." - "Another sweet: Break grated Sigilines (a kind of wheat bread), and make larger bites. Soak in milk, fry in oil, douse in honey and serve."). This was also known as Pan Dulcis. Similar dishes have existed in many countries and under many names, known in Medieval Europe as:

  • Austria: Pavese (a medieval type of shield whose shape resembles a slice of bread)
  • Catalonia: torrades o croquetes de Santa Teresa (literally, "toasts or croquettes of Saint Theresa")
  • Croatia: pohani kruh
  • England: suppe dorate (Italian for "gilded sippets")
  • France: pain perdu (literally, "lost bread")
  • Germany: Armer Ritter (literally, "poor knight"; the name is sometimes meant to originate from poor knights in Medieval times, having not enough gold to pay for meat, and thus eating old bread slices, coated with egg and fried )
  • Hungary: bundás kenyér (literally, "coated bread" or "bread with fur")
  • Lebanon: pain perdu
  • Portugal: rabanadas or fatias douradas (literally, "golden slices of bread")
  • Yugoslavia and some successor republics: прженице - prženice

Modern versions occur in countries under other names:

  • Belgium: verloren brood, wentelteefjes, gewonnen brood, or gebakken boterhammen (literally "lost bread", "won bread", or "baked sandwiches" as it was traditionally made from stale bread) in Flanders, pain perdu (literally, "lost bread") in Wallonia
  • Brazil: rabanada or "fatia parida"(in the northeast region of Brazil)
  • Bulgaria: пържени филии - părzheni filii ("fried slices [of bread]")
  • Bosnia: prženice
  • Canada (in francophone regions): pain doré (literally, "golden bread")
  • Denmark and Norway: arme riddere (literally, "poor knights")
  • England: Eggy Bread and Gypsy Toast
  • Estonia: piilud ("ducklings")
  • Finland köyhät ritarit ("poor knights") when eaten plain or with butter, rikkaat ritarit ("rich knights") when rolled in powdered sugar, sprinkled with it until fully covered or alternatively covered with whipped cream to provide the white base, and an eye of red colored jam added in the center.
  • Greece: αβγόφετα (avgófeta, literally "egg-slice")
  • Guatemala: Tostadas a la francesa
  • Israel:
  • Macedonia: Пржено лепче
  • Mexico: pan francés, torreja (north of Mexico)
  • Netherlands: wentelteefjes (etymology unclear, wentelen = "to turn over", teefje = "female dog", or "wentel 't eefjes" = "turn it for a short time"). Used in some parts of Flanders, Belgium as well.
  • Norway: 'Arme riddere' = 'Poor knights'
  • Pakistan: meetha thoasth (literally, "sweet toast")
  • Philippines: Cheesy french toast , often eaten with maple or chocolate syrup
  • Romania: frigănele
  • Russia: гренки - grěnki
  • Serbia: prženice
  • Scotland: Gangsta Bread (Glasgow's east end), French Toast, Gypsy Toast, Eggy Bread
  • South India and Sri Lanka: Bombay toast
  • Spain: torrija
  • Slovakia: chlieb vo vajíčku (literally, "bread in the egg")
  • Sweden: fattiga riddare (literally, "poor knights")
  • Switzerland: Fotzelschnitten ("rascals' slices")
  • Turkey: yumurtalı ekmek (literally, "bread with eggs"), or ekmek balığı (literally, "breadfish" / "fish of bread")
  • United Kingdom: 'poor knights of Windsor', 'Gypsy Toast' and in parts of Cumbria, 'Pandora'.
  • US: Overwhelmingly French toast, though it may on rare occasion be called German toast, Spanish toast, nun's toast, egg toast, or French fried pudding.


File:HKStyleFrenchtoast.jpg|Hong Kong style French toast served in Cha chaan tengs. The toppings include syrup and a slab of butter.File:RubySlipper20Sept2008Brunch.jpg|French Toast breakfast served at the Ruby Slipper Restaurant in New Orleans.File:French toast, maple syrup.jpg|French Toast topped with fruit and whipped cream.

See also


  1. Recipes : Stuffed French Toast : Food Network
  2. German article about the origins of the name Arme Ritter (and a few other German dishes with strange names)

  • Odilie Redon et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1998).
  • John F. Mariani, The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (Lebhar-Friedman, New York, 1999).
  • Craig Claiborne, Craig Claiborne's The New York Times Food Encyclopedia (Times Books, New York, 1985).
  • Fannie Farmer, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1918) [26539]

External links

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