Pain Perdu

published Jul 21, 2021
Pain Perdu

It's the dessert version of your favorite French toast breakfast.

Serves2 to 4

Prep25 minutes

Cook15 minutes

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Pain Purdu, also known as French Toast, with sliced almond, sliced strawberries and powdered sugar on a white plate with a blue border
Credit: Laura Rege
Pain Purdu

Fans of sweet breakfasts will love this pain perdu — the French version of, well, French toast — with a crisp, buttery outside and rich, custardy interior. Pain perdu roughly translates to “lost bread” (lost meaning day-old or stale bread that may have been thrown away). Because it’s a bit drier than it’s fresh counterpart, slightly stale bread is the perfect vehicle to absorb the creamy and sweet egg custard that’s a signature component of this dish. Make sure to soak the toast until all the custard is absorbed, and definitely use butter (not oil) when you’re cooking; the butter browns up a bit in the pan with the pain perdu, emphasizing the rich, nutty, caramel notes of this dish. 

Although it was originally enjoyed more as a dessert than a breakfast in France, here in America we have adopted this bread-saving technique as a way to start the day. But we encourage you to try pain perdu as it was meant to be — after a meal with a nice dusting of powdered sugar and fresh berries.

How to Choose the Best Bread for Pain Perdu

The best bread for pain perdu is day-old or slightly stale bread that will soak up the custard, but not get too soggy. This recipe uses brioche, but others have called for challah or French bread.

Credit: Laura Rege
Pain Purdu

How Long Should You Soak the Bread?

Soaking the bread in a custard and crisping it in a skillet helps turn old bread into a delicious meal, but you don’t want to do it for too long. The bread should be placed in the custard for about four or five minutes per side, then you’re ready to go.

What’s the Best Way to Reheat Pain Perdu?

Place on a sheet tray in an oven or in the toaster.

Pain Perdu

It's the dessert version of your favorite French toast breakfast.

Prep time 25 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup

    whole milk or half-and-half

  • 3

    large eggs

  • 4 tablespoons

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    vanilla extract

  • Pinch

    kosher salt

  • 4 (3/4-inch thick) slices

    day-old brioche bread

  • 2 cups

    strawberries

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    sliced almonds, preferably toasted

  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  1. Place 3/4 cup whole milk or half-and-half, 3 large eggs, 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a pinch of kosher salt in a 9x13-inch baking dish or other shallow baking dish large enough to hold the brioche in a single layer. Whisk until smooth and combined.

  2. Add 4 (3/4-inch thick) slices brioche in a single layer and turn to coat. Let soak 5 minutes. Flip the brioche and let soak until all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes more. Meanwhile, trim and thinly slice 2 cups strawberries. Place in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and toss to combine.

  3. Melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 brioche slices and cook until the bottoms are golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is golden-brown, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to plates. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter and brioche slices.

  4. Spoon the strawberries over the pain perdu and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sliced almonds if desired. Dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Swap vanilla extract with Grand Marnier or Cointreau or just add a teaspoon of either into the recipe for a touch of orange. You can also use blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries in addition to, or in place of, strawberries.

Storage: Pain perdu is best right away, but leftovers can be refrigerated up to 4 days or frozen up to 2 months. Reheat in a regular or toaster oven.