French Toast is the delicious cousin of savoury Eggy Bread. With a hint of vanilla and lovely thick bread soaked in a sweet eggy custard, this take on the French pain perdu is a wonderfully versatile breakfast, brunch or dessert.
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There are a million recipes for French toast out there. During my research I found that 80% of them contained cinnamon. Now I am a cinnamon hater so this is something that I’ve never even considered adding to my recipe.
But even putting aside my personal preferences, I think that adding such a strong flavour to the basic recipe stops it from being as versatile as it could be. So this is a recipe for French Toast without cinnamon.
The joy of French toast is that you can whip up a batch in under 15 minutes with ingredients that you almost certainly already have in the house. Or, slightly longer if you’re making more batches and don’t have multiple pans.
It’s something that I regularly make for a weekend breakfast for one. For some reason the concept of adding sugar to an eggy bread mix used to feel a little weird to me. But then I realised it’s just a custard and actually it’s just a quick cook version of bread and butter pudding!
- What’s The Difference Between French Toast and Eggy Bread?
- How to Serve French Toast
- Make Classic French Toast into a Feast
- Ingredients for Simple French Toast
- Equipment Notes for French Toast
- Get Ahead
- Leftover Simple French Toast
- French Toast Tips
- Full Step-by-Step Recipe
What’s The Difference Between French Toast and Eggy Bread?
If you’re not sure of the difference, I like to think of it like this; eggy bread is savoury with no sugar added to the recipe and French toast is sweet with sugar and vanilla.
This doesn’t mean to say that eggy bread can’t be served with sweet toppings like maple syrup. Nor does it mean that French toast can’t be served with savoury toppings like bacon and eggs.
I’m also aware that many people have grown up making either a sweet or savoury version whilst using the other name! But for ease of distinction, lets go with eggy bread is savoury and French toast is sweet!
How to Serve French Toast
The only thing I think I’d really like to insist on here is that it is served hot. I really can’t see a circumstance where cold french toast would be overly pleasant. If you’re making lots of french toast in batches, you can keep the early batches warm on a tray in a low oven.
Otherwise it’s one or two slices per portion depending on appetite and how thick your bread is. For a hearty brunch with bacon and egg, I’m likely to eat two good slices. For a dessert with some ice cream, I’d probably go for just one.
The given recipe makes four slices. You can adjust the recipe to make as many or as few slices as you need. Just round the number of eggs up if you end up with a weird fraction.
Make Classic French Toast into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
What to serve with French Toast is the real question here. It’s a dish that can be a feast all to itself. Just like with Eggy Bread; bacon, poached eggs and maple syrup are some of my preferred toppings.
As you’ll see in the pictures, strawberries and fresh whipped cream is a lovely combination. I simply slice strawberries and leave them to sit in sugar whilst the toast cooks. This creates a lovely syrup around the macerated strawberries too.
Other tasty toppings could include nutella and cream, other fresh fruits with yoghurt or creme fraiche and maybe a drizzle of honey. My peach and ginger compote would be amazing too! Just saying.
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Simple French Toast
Old eggs, new eggs, hens eggs, duck eggs, any eggs. Just use what you have. The recipe is written using UK large eggs. But there is no problem in using a few more smaller eggs or a few less larger eggs.
It’s a very forgiving recipe. Worse case scenario, you end up with a little of the custard mix left over or you have to spend two minutes whipping up a little more.
Traditionally French toast is a way of using up bread which is not at its freshest. “Pain perdu” which is the French name means “lost bread”. As in bread which isn’t any good anymore.
It’s a great way to avoid food waste by using up bread which is no good for sandwiches but when you want something more than toast. Anything more than a day or two old is perfect.
I cut the bread around 3cm thick. These are decent chunky slices. There is nothing wrong with cutting thinner slices but I wouldn’t suggest going much thicker or they will take forever to cook.
What Bread to Use for French Toast
In theory you can use any bread to make this recipe. From slices of baguette, to crusty loaves and factory made bread. You can even use crumpets.
You could use brown bread but I’m not a fan. It has too much of its own flavour. Flatbreads or something like focaccia which again has it’s own flavour doesn’t work great either. I also don’t find that sourdoughs which are very crusty and holey are very successful.
I’m also not too keen on using a bread without exposed crumb on both sides. So things like bagels and pitta breads. I’ve tried it and they just don’t soak up the egg very well. In fact if you are using the crust from the end of a loaf, I recommend using a sharp knife to cut a very thin piece of the crust off.
A really popular option for French toast is to use a buttery enriched bread like brioche or challah. I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan as I think the texture can be a little too soft and the flavour too overwhelming. But that’s mostly personal preference. If that’s what you want to try, go for it.
Unlike eggy bread where I prefer to use standard white sliced bread, for French toast I use a bakery style sandwich loaf which I cut myself. It doesn’t really matter if it is crusty or soft as the crust will soften once soaked anyway.
Skimmed milk is what I keep in the house so that is what I use. But any milk will work here, even plant based if that is what you have on hand.
Some recipes switch the milk for cream. This is fine but you may need to allow the bread to sit longer in the egg mix for it to be properly absorbed.
I’ve used icing sugar (called powdered or confectioner’s sugar in the US) in the recipe because I think it is easier to incorporate into the egg and milk mix.
This is a rare occasion, where I’d suggest that it’s fine to use a sweetener instead of actual sugar. The light powderyness will mix in fine and I don’t think it will affect the flavour an awful lot.
I’ve discussed various alternative bread options above. Just please be aware that obviously the ratio of egg mix to bread will vary if you are planning on mixing it up. And the cooking times will vary too.
The other way to mix things up is to add other flavourings to the egg mixture. For a fresh spring option, a little lemon zest works brilliantly. Or for a festive vibe, orange or clementine zest. The old cinnamon that I dislike so much is of course an option for the lovers out there.
A really common addition is a little booze. Especially something warming like a bourbon or dark rum. Spiced rums also work with the vanilla notes.
The most important thing is to think about the toppings you’re planning. Bourbon spiked french toast isn’t going to pair well with bacon but vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and pecans would be amazing.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
This French toast recipe is suitable for vegetarians.
To make vegan French toast is a little more challenging but not impossible. First of all you need to make sure that your bread is vegan. Many breads, especially rich breads can contain milk and butter.
The egg is the main substitution and you will need to use some kind of vegan liquid egg substitute. And then the milk can be easily substituted for a plant based milk. If you’re using a sweetened milk, you could perhaps not add the icing sugar.
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from nuts.
Gluten Free: Simply use a gluten free bread. Actually this is a great way to use up commercial gluten free bread which can be on the dryer side anyway.
Dairy Free: Switch the milk for a plant based option.
Egg Free: As I’ve mentioned above, you could switch the eggs for a vegan liquid egg substitute.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for French Toast
You’ll notice in the photos in the recipe card that I’ve used a large baking tray to mix up the egg mix and soak the bread. I do like to use something that will fit all of my bread slices in one layer. This ensures that they all soak up the same amount of custard.
For making smaller batches, I usually use one of my various sizes of lidded pyrex dishes. These are also great for making the egg mix the night before and popping it in the fridge with the lid on. Anything to minimise washing up!
As for the actual cooking, the bigger your frying pan, the better. You really really want to make sure you are using a good non stick option. As much as I love my cast iron skillet, I generally avoid cooking eggs in it.
As you don’t want to crowd the pan too much, if I’m making more than 2 slices at a time, I work in batches or grab another frying pan and work using two burners.
Lastly, you need a good spatula. I favour the silicone fish slices as these don’t scratch non stick surfaces like metal or melt in the heat like nylon. Actually silicone utensils are largely all I use.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
I touched on making the egg mixture up the night before in preparation for the next day. This is a smart move if you’re really pushed for time even though it does only take 2 minutes to whip up.
Please don’t be tempted to get the bread in to soak. It will have entirely disintegrated by morning. This really is a step in the recipe that wants to be done just before cooking time.
As for cooking in advance, well this works surprisingly well. I was quite surprised when I tried it as French toast is generally a cook-it-and-eat-it-immediately dish in my house. It can either be kept warm in a low oven or fully reheated in the oven later in the day.
I’ve tried this the next day and it worked fine. Just make sure to keep the toast in the fridge overnight.
Leftover Simple French Toast
Leftovers can also be stored in the fridge and reheated.
If you don’t fancy straight French toast, you can cut it into chucks, add it to a small baking dish and add a little more egg/milk mix then bake. The flavour is going to be similar to the original but you can add in fruits, nuts or chocolate chips to mix things up.
French Toast Tips
Try not to keep flipping the bread over in the egg mix when it’s soaking. I am a pain in the butt for doing this out of impatience! But all that happens is that the bread can start to tear and break up.
This recipe cooks the bread low and slow so the custard that’s been soaked into the bread gets cooked through. Hitting it with a higher heat will leave you with a cold and soggy innard which is as unappealing as it is sounds.
It is impossible for me to know what “low” means on your stove. So please use your judgement and keep an eye on the French toast while it’s cooking. You can see from the photos what sort of final colour you’re looking for after 4 minutes on each side.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Simple French Toast Recipe
- 5 Eggs
- 150 ml Milk
- 2 tbsp Icing Sugar (Confectioner’s Sugar)
- 2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4 slices Thick White Sliced Bread
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- Break 5 Eggs into a large baking pan. Add 150ml Milk, 2 tbsp Icing Sugar, 2 tsp Sea Salt Flakes and 1 tsp Vanilla Extract.
- Whisk everything together until fully combined.
- Cut 4 thick slices of White Bread.
- Please the bread slices into the egg mixture. Leave them to sit for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Flip the bread over so the egg mix can soak into the second side. Again leave the bread to sit for a couple of minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed.
- Heat 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil in a large frying pan on a medium high heat until just starting to smoke. Add 2 of the bread slices and turn the heat down to low. You are looking for a slight sizzle but nothing more. Allow to cook slowly for 4 minutes.
- Use a fish slice to flip the slices and leave to cook for a further 4 minutes on the second side.
- Either serve the slices straight away or keep them warm in a low oven. Keep repeating until all slices of the bread are cooked. Alternatively you can use multiple pans at the same time.