Pain perdu is the original version of what we call French toast. Arrêtez! Stop!
Aiiiiie! Don’t start hitting me with your day-old baguette! (That would hurt. We used to sword fight with them in my house. Luckily, no one was ever injured. Not seriously anyway.)
Pain perdu is quite different from anything we tend to call French toast. You see, most French families have a cloth bag that hangs somewhere in the kitchen where they can store their daily rations of bread. This is no ordinary bread basket, since you’d have to break the bread long before…breaking bread, potentially leaving it stale in the process! So they have long, rectangle pouches. At the end of the meal, often the last half, or even just the butt of the bread gets tossed in it’s rightful place.
So pain perdu means “lost bread” and generally entails hacking away at a few stubborn pieces of baguette that have since become much too hard to serve with cheese and then soaking them to different degrees of sogginess before heating them up on a griddle and serving them somewhat custardy in the middle.
A little different (not less delicious most of the time) than the uniformly cooked sandwich slices we have a tendency to eat back in the States, am I right?
Anyway, pancakes, French toast, cinnamon rolls are often things you get used to early in life. “My mom makes the best [insert breakfast food here]” is something that has probably rolled off many a tongue tip in the world. So if you prefer a good old-fashioned pain perdu, that’s cool with me. If you prefer Texas toast or wee little sandwich slices, that’s fine, too.
But anyway you wanna shake it, French toast is still comforting. And quick. Even though, pancakes are kind of the crème de la crème of Sunday brunch. So what if you could have the best of both worlds? Or hey, what if you have pancakes leftover from Sunday brunch and you want to get over your case of the Mondays? FRENCH TOAST PANCAKES….or wait, we’re rescuing stale pancakes?! The American pride equivalent of fresh baguette with every meal?! Why, let’s call them Pancakes Perdus!
- Basic Buttermilk Pancakes:
- (Makes 10 pancakes)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- 1 ½ tablespoon oil
- French Toast Egg Batter:
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Cinnamon Sugar:
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Garnish: Fresh seasonal fruit, maple syrup, or more cinnamon sugar
- First make the pancakes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg , buttermilk, and oil until combined. Then in a separate bowl sift together all of the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ones, stopping before all of the lumps have been dissolved. You want your batter to be lumpy, folks.
- Heat a griddle (my electric stovetop was between 4-6 at all times) and grease lightly with a little oil. Using a ¼ measuring cup, ladle batter onto the surface working from the middle and spiraling your way out to create a circle. To avoid having too much batter in the center, dab from the middle outwards with your measuring cup to bring the batter towards the edges. When the pancakes start to bubble in the centers, flip the pancakes carefully.
- If any batter spills, use your spatula to bring the batter back to the circle.
- On your test pancakes, break it apart in the center. If fully cooked through and not burnt on the outside, your griddle heat is perfect. Adjust heat as needed throughout the cooking process.
- Set aside on a plate and turn off the stove top until ready to use again.
- Next create your French toast batter by whisking together all of the ingredients until slightly frothy.
- Sift together the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl, working out any clumps of sugar.
- Then dip your pancake slices into the French toast batter. If using fresh pancakes, letting them soak for about 1 minute, which should be enough to get nice custardy pancakes. If using leftover, day-old pancakes let them sit for up to 1 minute.
- Preheat your griddle until hot, cook until the French toast batter is no longer raw and is golden to brown on the outide.
- Flip in the cinnamon sugar. Serve.
- Note: if you need a little more French toast batter, just crack an egg and add ⅛ cup milk a dash of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon once more.
- You can also halve the French toast batter if you are using left over pancakes. This is a versatile recipe.