Recipe Review

Eric Ripert’s Gran Ma’s French Toast Will Ruin You for All Other French Toast

published May 6, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Nigel Parry.

Do dozens of enthusiastic Instagram DM’s guarantee that you’ve found the very best French toast recipe of all time? Before now, I would have said “No, absolutely not.” But when I asked my friends for French toast recipe recommendations, my messages were flooded with the same post again and again: a carousel of Eric Ripert making his Gran Ma’s French toast on Instagram

All of this makes perfect sense when you remember that Eric Ripert is a French chef who grew up eating classic pain perdu lovingly prepared by his Gran Ma, but watching the video clips made me exclaim out loud, “Is this even possible!” You see, Ripert’s method doesn’t call for mixing up a custard for soaking the bread. Instead, you pour milk on individual slices of stale bread and then you spoon whisked egg on top, followed by a sprinkling of sugar. Would the results be as weird as the method or would Gran Ma’s French toast ruin me for all others? I couldn’t wait to find out. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Headshot: Nigel Parry

How to Make Eric Ripert Gran Ma French Toast 

According to Eric Ripert’s Instagram post, you need “old bread” to make this recipe. I also watched him cook this recipe on Live With Kelly & Ryan using everything from whole-wheat sandwich bread to hot dog buns, so I took a chance and used challah bread, letting it dry out on a cooling rack in my microwave for a few days.

While setting up for this recipe, it is helpful to whisk up a few eggs and have a few tablespoons of sugar standing by. You can pour milk into a baking dish or bowl, which makes soaking the bread easier. For each slice, you dunk it first in milk before spooning the whisked egg over one side of the saturated bread, then sprinkling with sugar. Melt a little butter in a skillet, and add a piece of the French toast, egg-side down. As the bottom cooks, you can add egg and sugar to the top of the bread.

Ripert notes that his Gran Ma would have served this French toast straight-up, but he mentions that he likes topping his with a cinnamon-infused maple syrup. 

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Eric Ripert Gran Ma French Toast 

Deep, caramel-like flavors, tender-crisp, almost brûlée-like exterior with a creamy, custard interior — this recipe is everything that classic French toast should be. Thanks to the incredibly creamy interior and caramel-coated edges, you barely need any butter or syrup to enjoy Eric Ripert’s Gran Ma’s French toast. I used to think that this kind of perfection could only be found in restaurants, but this recipe changed all that for me. 

This recipe requires quite a bit of finesse, making it less ideal for every single weekend, but it will knock your socks off on a special occasion. While mixing up the eggs and measuring out sugar seems fussy, it also cuts down on extra dishes and ingredient waste that traditional custards create. I tried it with maple syrup but thought it would be amazing served with softened, cultured butter or crème fraîche for serving. 

If You’re Making Eric Ripert’s Gran Ma French Toast, a Few Tips 

  1. Stale bread really does make it better. Staling the bread builds a nice anticipation for the enjoyment of the recipe and really makes for thirsty bread that sucks up the milk and egg very well. I recommend an overnight dry-out to make the bread more absorbent and sturdy. 
  2. Having rough ingredient amounts really helps. I used 1 1/2 cups of whole milk for soaking one loaf of challah bread (about eight 1/2-inch slices), whisked up and used most of 3 eggs, and used about 1 teaspoon of sugar per slice of bread (1/2 teaspoon per side).
  3. Use a nonstick pan and low heat for cooking. Low cooking temperature is essential to caramelize the outside while also cooking the custard inside the bread. I used a cast iron skillet for testing and had to clean out the pan twice to keep the excess sugar from burning, but in the future I will try a nonstick pan and wipe it out between batches for easier cleanup.
  4. Keep the French toast moving. Don’t be afraid to flip the bread over or rotate it in the pan for even browning and caramelization. You can always add a little more butter or sugar as needed to really get that crackling sugar crust. 

Overall rating: 10/10

Have you tried Eric Ripert’s Gran Ma French Toast? Let us know in the comments.