|Pain perdu, saved!|
Chapter 2: Toasts, French Toasts and Breakfast Sandwiches
The introduction for this recipe taught me something new. With a classically French sense of poetry, in France french toast is called pain perdu (lost bread) as it is considered a way to use up day-old or hard bread.
As a measure of my appreciation of the name — and the sentiment of reclaiming food that would otherwise go to waste — I decided to really put the old bread theory to the test by using the remains of a loaf of Hideaway Bakery's seeded wheat sourdough that was a good five or six days past fresh. After sawing through the tough outer crust I was having my doubts, but the inside of the bread was still quite soft, and Ms. Cunningham does recommend using a dense, homemade style bread for french toast, so I stuck to the plan and was very pleasantly surprised.
The moisture from the egg and milk, plus the layer of fruit syrup flavor really makes this french toast recipe a standout. Even with bread that is on its very last legs!
I did wonder if blueberry syrup was a good choice given the color it would impart (see below), but despite the unappetizing hue while dipping, it thankfully did not present itself in the finished dish.
Though not called for in the original recipe, I sprinkled cinnamon and nutmeg on each side as the toast cooked, because that's part and parcel of french toast in my book. Feel free to leave out or substitute with cardamom or other favorite spices.
Fruit Syrup French Toast
Adapted from The Breakfast Book by Marion Cunningham
1/2 cup milk, light cream or heavy cream
1/4 cup fruit syrup
Salt to taste
6 slices bread (preferably a dense homemade type; typically white, but try rye or whole wheat, too)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
Cinnamon and nutmeg, for sprinkling
Combine the eggs, milk, syrup and salt in a medium bowl with a fork until well mixed. Strain through a sieve into a shallow bowl large enough to easily dip your slices of bread.
Give each side a minute or more (depending on density of your bread) to soak up the egg mixture completely. When done, place each battered slice on a sheet of wax paper.
Melt half the butter in a pan large enough to cook three slices of bread at the same time, and cook them on medium heat until lightly browned on each side, turning once. Sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg on each side as you cook.
Keep the cooked slices warm in a 250° oven while preparing the last three slices. Serve warm with your favorite french toast toppings. I suggest a dab of butter, fresh fruit and more fruit or maple syrup.
Recipe for Blueberry-Basil Syrup
Makes approximately 3/4 cup
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup water
2 pieces of lemon peel
3 tablespoons sugar
The top portion of 2 sprigs of basil (or 4 medium to large leaves)
After washing the blueberries, put them in a small non-reactive pan and add half the water. Use a sharp knife to remove two thin pieces of peel from a lemon, making sure to include as little of the white pith as possible. Smash the berries with a potato masher to release the juice, while bringing to a boil over medium heat. After adding the lemon peel, lower the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve and reserve the berries to mix into plain yogurt or add to a smoothie later. Rinse the pan and add the rest of the water and the sugar, stirring as you bring to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, add the blueberry syrup and the basil springs and simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes. Cook a little longer if you prefer a thicker syrup, but avoid having it thicken too much or it will set into a jelly.
Remove basil sprigs and let syrup cool to room temperature before using. Store in fridge.
I'll be back with another chapter in two weeks, but in the meantime please don't forget to visit the pages of my five fellow food bloggers to see what they picked and prepared from Chapter 2: