French toast is a long-beloved breakfast choice in many countries across the world, and it is not at all because of how simple the classic recipe is.
If we believe Wikipedia (which most of us do, I’ve got a master’s degree and despite listening to professors trying to drill in the untrustworthiness of Wikipedia as a source for 6 years, I still run to it whenever I need info), the first account of a dessert similar to French toast can be found in a Latin recipe collection from the 1st century AD.
The recipe called for crustless white bread soaked in a mixture of milk and beaten eggs to be fried in oil and served with honey.
So, if you’re wondering how to make easy French toast, I guess that’s as easy as it gets. We can all go home now.
Obviously, when we’re talking about classic French toast these days, we mean something a little different, something more decadent, if you will. Decadence, after all, has long been associated with everything French – toast being no exception.
Luckily, if you’re wondering how to make homemade French toast to partake in that decadence for cheap – the answer is not that different from that old Latin recipe.
Classic Simple French Toast
What is usually referred to as classic French toast, is simply a piece of (stale) bread dunked in a mixture made of milk and eggs, and then fried on both sides. It’s one of the simplest breakfast recipes around, and the illusion of decadence is mostly just decoration that can easily be replicated at home.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll assume you’re cooking for two people and, accordingly, all recipes will be with measurements for two portions.
You are going to need:
Since we’re talking about classic French, it’s worth mentioning that most older recipes also mention adding sugar to the milk and egg mixture, while the newer variations often add nutmeg (a popular pairing with cinnamon), and sometimes cardamom (it’s traditional in Norway, so still classic, I guess?).
How to make:
Add your preferred toppings (sliced fruit, powdered sugar, and maple syrup are the most popular choices), and enjoy.
Really, the most difficult part of making great French toast is choosing the right bread.
Choosing the Right Bread for French Toast:
Here’s the deal: French toast is supposed to be the poor person’s dessert. One of its names is literally “poor knight”. So simple white bread is the most traditional choice.
That said, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows a thing or two about bread, but commercially made white bread isn’t an ideal option. Especially, if it’s pre-sliced.
The slices and crust just aren’t thick enough, and even if you buy a whole loaf and slice it yourself, chances are it will get too soggy too quickly and become mushy in the pan, if not fall apart.
I won’t be the one to dunk on anyone’s French toast preferences, but I know mushy French toast isn’t the most popular choice among the connoisseurs out there.
So, if you want a truly good piece of toast, you need to invest in the correct bread.
If you’re determined to have French toast with white bread, then a classic Parisian baguette is probably your best choice. The thick crust and fluffy inside make it a great choice for dunking after it has been sitting in the pantry overnight. Contrary to that old Latin recipe, you shouldn’t de-crust it. The crust, in fact, will be one of the best parts about using a baguette for French toast.
French toast with brioche is probably the most popular variation out there, if not the most classic. But who cares! Due to its high content of eggs and butter, brioche makes for a great toast material. It’s tender, but sturdy, ensuring your toast won’t fall apart (unless you leave it soaking for far too long) but will be melt-in-your-mouth fluffy.
(Other bread with similarly high egg-and-butter content, like Challah, will do great as well)
For those who wonder if it’s possible to make French toast sourdough – absolutely! Its tangy taste isn’t likely to cut through your milk mixture unless the type you chose is particularly “sour”. And if you wish to make French toast with non-stale bread, a sturdy thick-crusted sourdough is your best choice, as the chances of it falling apart in the pan are much lower.
And if your sourdough of choice is on the sourer side – that can be easily remedied with the right topping choice.
Blueberry French Toast with Sourdough
Blueberries are one of the most popular toppings for French toast, and they work particularly well with sourdough.
Follow the classic French toast recipe, but keep in mind that stale sourdough will need a bit more time to soak up the milk mixture (maybe around 15-20 seconds). Fry it in unsalted butter and serve with a heap of blueberries and maple syrup.
Or! If you have more time on your hands, you could do a French toast bake with blueberries. This recipe will work great with any stale bread, but since it requires soaking for a longer time, sturdy sourdough will still work best.
You are going to need:
How to make:Step 1) Line the greased baking dish with bread, spread the blueberries on top, and cover with the remaining bread. Gently press down.
Step 2) Pour the milk mixture over the bread, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Step 3) Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the center is firm.
Overnight French Toast Casserole
Have more time? Or, on the contrary – less, and can only spend an hour on your French toast per day? Soak it overnight!
Yes, I know we mentioned that oversoaked toast becomes all mushy and falls apart earlier, but the oven can work magic! The principle is the same as the blueberry bake – pour the milk mixture over the bread and cover, but refrigerate overnight!
Prefer your breakfast on the savory side? You can adjust your French toast casserole accordingly. Simplicity really is the main point of French toast.
Savory Breakfast Casserole with French Toast in the Oven
Sourdough or a baguette will work better with this dish, due to its tangier taste. Follow the blueberry bake recipe but skip the vanilla and cinnamon in the milk mixture and add black pepper and a tablespoon of mustard instead.
You will need 2 cups of shredded hard cheese (gruyere, gouda, or edammer will work best) for the filling and topping. You can also add some cubed ham to the filling.
How to make:Step 1) Line the greased baking dish with bread, spread 1 cup of cheese (and ham) on top, and cover with the remaining bread.
Step 2) Pour over the custard, spread the other cup of cheese on top, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3) Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 F. Uncover and bake for additional 20 minutes, or until the center is firm.
French Toast Apple Casserole in a Crockpot
Yes, you can also make your casserole in a crockpot! Since we already talked blueberries and cheese, let’s switch it up a bit – if you are ever craving apple pie but don’t have time to make it from scratch, this would be the next best thing!
Brioche would work best with this recipe, but a baguette would be good as well.
You are going to need:
How to make:Step 1) Line the bottom of your crock with sliced apples and walnuts and cover with cubed bread.
Step 2) Pour the milk mixture over the bread, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Step 3) Cook in the crockpot on high for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours (double the time if you put it on low and you’re planning to leave the house while the casserole is cooking).
Vegan French Toast
Thanks to the progress (and increase in popularity of veganism), you can now easily make French toast without eggs. That said, if you’re googling “French toast recipe vegan” in hope to make French toast healthy (or, well, healthy-er), then you might as well go back to non-vegan recipes.
That’s because the best vegan French toast recipes usually require more sugar to cover up the taste of the egg substitutes. Plenty of non-vegan recipes, on the other hand, skip sugar with no loss to the flavor.
But if you simply miss French toast on a vegan diet and are perfectly fine with enjoying a classic piece of French toast regardless of how (un)healthy it is – you can make a perfectly good one using Just Egg (possibly the most popular vegan egg substitutes these days, it’s close to the real thing in taste and is liquid, making it all the more suitable for the French toast milk mixture).
You are going to need:
How to make:Step 1) Whisk Just Egg, non-dairy milk/creamer, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together.
Step 2) Soak the bread – might take a little more time than the standard mixture, around 15 minutes.
Step 3) Melt the butter/heat the oil in a large pan.
Step 4) Fry the bread from both sides until golden brown.
Healthy French Toast
Look. French toast isn’t necessarily a healthy food. But you can make it less unhealthy by:
But in the end, French toast is something that should be indulged occasionally and is not for an everyday breakfast.
So, indulge in the version you find most appetizing when you do decide to make it.
How many calories are there in French toast?
Yes, we went there. But it is a bit complicated.
So many factors play into it, that unless you know the exact ingredients and toppings used for the toast, you won’t be able to tell.
Are you using plain white bread, brioche, or sourdough? Are you using milk or cream? Are you adding granulated sugar to the milk mixture or will you be skipping it in favor of sweet toppings?
And toppings are another can of worms altogether! Fresh fruit doesn’t add that many calories, but maple syrup? Honey? Powdered sugar? Could easily up your toast by 100 calories.
If we do very rough estimates, then a piece of sourdough or baguette French toast with sugar-free milk mixture and no toppings comes out at around 250-300 calories, while a brioche French toast will be around 400-450 calories.