Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pain Perdu

I think this morning I may possibly have made the best pain perdu (French toast) I've ever eaten, thanks to some fresh vanilla beans that I picked up at the open air market in St. Martin a few weeks ago for an absurdly low price (why didn't I bring home more??!!?) and some fantastic organic maple syrup (I'm trying to figure out what would make maple syrup non-organic; I thought you just go into the woods and tap a tree, but this stuff was better) my daughter brought us back from Montreal. (Thanks, Katie!)

As I'm sure almost everyone knows by now, pain pendu (literally, "lost bread") was invented by the French as a way to salvage stale baguettes, which is handy since baguettes seem to go stale about 10 minutes after they come out of the oven. (Not joking here: many French visit the bakery twice a day to get their morning and evening baguettes.)

Here's the recipe -- ridiculously simple. If you don't have a vanilla bean (or don't want to sacrifice to French Toast the one you paid 5 bucks for at Williams-Sonoma), you can substitute -- never mind, you can't; it won't be the same. In the photograph, the dark strip at the top of the slice on the right is a wayward piece of bean.

Pain Perdu
Serves 2

8 1-inch-thick slices day-old baguette
About 1/4 cup of milk
1 egg
A tablespoon or so heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons butter

  1. Slice one side of a vanilla bean from end to end, so you can fold it open like a book. Then, using a paring knife, scrape off the interior of the bean.
  2. Add the milk, egg, cream, a dash of salt, and bean scrapings to a bowl and stir thoroughly. Cut the bean casing in half and toss that in as well.
  3. Warm the mixture in a microwave or on the stovetop, remove from heat, and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes.
  4. Soak the baguette slices in the mixture while preheating a large skillet, turning frequently. Soak until all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add butter to skillet, and saute the bread at medium heat, being careful not to burn the bread.
  6. Serve with maple syrup.


  1. i imagine the type of sugar used to make the maple sap into syrup would affect it's definition as 'organic'... just a thought.

  2. Is there no 'egg' in this lovely toast recipe?

  3. Oh, my goodness! I left the egg out of the recipe. Has since fixed. Thanks for pointing this out!

  4. But what is this? A recipe with no metric weight measurements? :)



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