America’s Culinary Stories-French Toast

America is a melting pot that was formed by the hard-working people who migrated here from lands as far east as China and Japan, as far north as Russia and Europe. They utilized American supplies and prepared them in ways that they had prepared them in their homeland. True American food is a collection of these culinary traditions passed down from generation to generation”.Each culture brought its cooking methods, food, and spices to America. They farmed the soil, hunted game, and incorporated their ways into the food of America.

The earliest known reference to French toast is found in the Apicius, a collection of recipes dating to the 1st century, where the dish is described as simply “aliter dulcia” (“another sweet dish”. The recipe says to “Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] fry in oil, cover with honey and serve”.The usual French name is pain perdu.It may also be called pain doré, “golden bread”.

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.The word “soup” in the dish’s name refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop. In Hungary, it is commonly called bundáskenyér (lit. “furry bread”)

French toast was served in railroad dining cars in the early and mid-20th century. Santa Fe was especially known for its French toast.

So, if the French did not invent this breakfast treat, who did? According to some, it was a man named Joseph French. He created the dish in 1724 and advertised it as “French Toast” because he forgot to add the apostrophe to his name.

Still, others say that there are recipes from the early 5th century AD and the dish we now know as French toast existed as early as the Roman Empire/ Romans would soak bread in a milk and egg mixture, then fry it in oil or butter.

Others believe that French toast was created by medieval European cooks who needed to use every bit of food they could find to feed their families. They knew day-old bread could be revived when moistened and heated. They added the eggs for additional moisture and protein.

The phrase “French Toast” first appeared in print in the Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink in 1871. But it is known by a variety of names including German toast, eggy bread, French-fried bread, gypsy toast, Poor Knights of Windsor, Spanish toast, nun’s toast, and pain perdu which means “lost bread” in French.

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SANTA FE (RAILROAD) FRENCH TOAST

SERVES: 4-8

INGREDIENTS

See note below:

6 slices firm white bread, ½-inch thick (I used leftover sourdough bread)
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil (for frying)

GARNISH
Confectioner’s sugar
Warm maple syrup

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position rack in the middle of the oven.

Arrange bread in a single layer in a baking dish.

Whisk together cream, eggs, and salt and pour over the bread.

Soak bread, turning once, until most of the liquid is absorbed but the bread is not falling apart about 2-3 minutes.

With a slotted spatula, carefully transfer soaked bread to a large cookie sheet.

Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a heavy skillet over moderate heat until registers 325 degrees.

Fry the bread 3 or 4 pieces at a time, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per batch, maintaining 325 degrees.

Transfer to a paper towel to drain briefly then return to the cookie sheet..

Once all the bread is fried, bake the toast until puffed, about 4 minutes.

Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with

Note

My adaptation of this recipe:
8 slices of bread
Add to the egg mixture
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey

 

Originally posted at Jovina Cooks Italian