Everyone has had eggy bread but you probably know it as one of it's myriad names! From pain perdu, French toast, gypsy toast, poor knight and a thousand others, it's no wonder it's so popular!
This classic dish can be varied in so many ways and eaten at different times of the day, so it's perfect for last minute frugal meals or jazzed up for entertaining.
This recipe is more of a brioche pain perdu, but I've got you covered with plenty of variations, including sweet, savoury and some in between to choose from.
All about this dish
If you’re English you probably know it as gypsy toast or eggy bread and, if you are in the US, it's French toast and it's normally eaten for breakfast.
However, this dish is popularly known as pain perdu in France and is traditionally served as a dessert. It is still a popular dessert locally in Deux Sevres, where I lived and one of my husband’s favourites. Pain perdu is translated as ‘lost bread’ and it was normally made to use up stale bread, in much the same way as bread and butter pudding.
For this recipe I am giving the ingredients a French slant. It makes the most simple, frugal and deliciously quick dessert using French brioche bread, which makes it perfect for easy entertaining!
This is such a simple recipe, so these are very basic ingredients:
- Sliced brioche - most supermarkets stock ready sliced brioche bread. If you haven't tried it before it is sweet, rich and buttery, with a very soft texture.
- Eggs - free range, medium.
- Milk - whole or semi skimmed
- Sugar - plain granulated white sugar or caster. Golden caster or brown will give a richer flavour.
- Vanilla extract - optional, but gives the brioche French toast an extra sweet flavour.
- Ground cinnamon - nutmeg would also work well.
- Butter - don't even think about using anything else as it won't give the same flavour.
This dessert is really easy to prepare so, if you are having a dinner party you could easily make the brioche French toast after the main course, in less than 15 minutes.
Whisk the eggs together with the milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat then dip the bread in the egg mixture, making sure that both sides are moistened.
Fry in the pan for 2-3 minutes until golden, then carefully flip over for another few minutes.
Serve on its own or add some fruit and ice cream.
💭 Top tip
- It's easier to cook two at a time and put the cooked ones in the oven on a low heat while you make the rest.
- If you have a leftover vanilla bean case, when you have removed the seeds, it's a great idea to put it in the sugar container. This way, you will always have vanilla sugar to hand for scattering over desserts.
Breads to try
- sliced white bread for the most frugal and traditional British eggy bread breakfast!
- English muffins - great for breakfasts
- brioche bread or gâche brioche
- sliced croissants
- panettone or sliced tea bread
- fresh fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sliced peaches and some whipped cream or crème fraîche
- ice cream with a sauce made from fruit, chocolate, maple syrup or salted caramel
- top with some fruit compound butter by mixing some berries with butter, forming into a log shape, then freezing. Slice off what you need and let the butter melt over the gypsy toast.
Leave out the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and try:
- top with a few slices of crisp cooked bacon, drizzled with maple syrup
- smoked salmon and a poached egg
- mashed avocado and chilli flakes
- top with cheese, melt under the grill and top with ham or tomatoes
- baked beans and chipolatas
These are best eaten freshly cooked. If you dunk the bread in the mixture too far in advance it will start to fall apart.
If you do have any leftover they can be refrigerated for a couple of days or wrapped and frozen.
Reheat in the frying pan with butter.
More bread recipes
- 4 Slices of Brioche
- 2 Eggs Beaten
- 2 tablespoon Milk
- 2 tablespoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon Butter
- Combine the eggs, milk, sugar,vanilla and cinnamon in a shallow container.
- Heat the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat.
- Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture on both sides.
- Fry in batches of 2 for a few minutes each side until golden.
- Serve with fruit and ice cream.