Pain Perdu

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French toast, or "pain perdu" (literally "lost bread"), started out as a simple way to use up old bread by dipping it in a beaten egg and frying it.  Many current recipes deviate little from that, calling for a couple of eggs and a touch of milk.  Those recipes, though, produce a toast that tastes mostly of fried egg and that, depending on the amount of liquid, is either overly soggy or still dry in the middle.

We wanted something quite different: bread that was crisp and buttery on the outside, soft and custard-like inside.  We wanted to taste a balance of flavors rather than just eating egg.  We wanted our pain perdu to be sweet enough to eat with only a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar, but not so sweet that we couldn't top it with syrup or macerated fruit if we chose to.   This recipe is the result.
1 loaf firm French bread, one day old, sliced 3/4" thick
1 egg
1 cup milk
2 tspn vanilla
2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs flour
1/4 tspn salt
unsalted butter for frying
1. Heat large skillet over medium heat
2. In a shallow pan or pie pan, beat egg lightly.
3. Whisk in milk and vanilla first, then sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk till smooth.
4. Add about 1 Tbs of butter to skillet and swirl around.
5. Soak a bread slice in the milk mixture for about 30 seconds, then flip and soak another 30 seconds on the other side.
6. Transfer bread to skillet and cook until bottom is golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook till the other side is golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes.
7. Repeat until all bread is cooked.
8. Serve with butter & syrup.
Servings: Depends on size of loaf, about 4 for a full loaf
Origin: The Best Recipe Cookbook

Challah is actually the best bread to use, if you can find it.  If you use challah, decrease milk to 3/4 cup, increase flour to 1/3 cup, and add 2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted, to the milk mixture.

For using cheap, everyday sandwich bread, use challah recipe.

To vary the flavor, you can also add 3/4 tspn ground cinnamon, and/or 1/2 tspn nutmeg, and/or substitute almond extract for the vanilla in the milk mixture.
Meal   BreakfastCuisine   French
Dish   BreadCooking Method   Pan Fried
Main Ingredient   Rice/GrainsPrep Time   less than 15 minutes
Cooking Time   less than 15 minutes

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