The Historical Food Fortnightly challenge this time was Breakfast Foods. Mmm, breakfast. Mmm, breakfast for dinner… I didn’t have very much luck finding something that could definitely be used for breakfast, but I found something that we modernly make for breakfast. French toast!
I’m normally pretty hit or miss on french toast. I have a terrible time getting it browned just right and I’m weird about my food textures. Since Amon has started cooking things that need to be ‘fried’ or ‘browned,’ the outcome of french toast in our house has drastically improved.
The recipe I found for french toast, or Pan Perdu, comes from the Savoring the Past blog. The recipe used was from an 18th century recipe, but they also found references for the same sort of thing in a 15th century cookbook. The older recipe doesn’t call for as much alcohol as the newer one, but I think I will try it at a later time.
The Challenge: #10, Breakfast Foods
The recipe calls for cream and sack/sherry. In previous recipes, I had made due with the alcohol on hand, but I find so many recipes that call for sack, I decided to go ahead and buy a bottle. We ended up doubling the recipe because we thought we would eat a lot of it. Turns out, it was way too much for us. We could have used a single batch and been more than happy.
The Date/Year and Region: 1739, English
Time to Complete: About an hour all together.
Total Cost: Maybe $30? The cream was about $3-$4, the sherry was $18, and the bread was $3 a loaf – and we used two. Everything else was at the house.
How Did You Make It: The night before we were cooking, I cut off the crusts of the bread, sliced it thick, and set it out to dry overnight. The next day, we put together the egg mixture, dipped the bread slices in it, and let them sit for a little bit. Amon had sausage links cooking in the oven and used the grease to fry up the bread. While he was doing that, I mixed together the sweet sauce and let it sit on the stove until we were ready.
We served the pan perdu with a bit of fresh fruit and the sausage links. Yummy.
How Successful Was It?: It definitely was french toast! I really enjoyed the thick slices. I am not sure I can go back to regular sandwich bread french toast after this. Maybe it was because it had been dried or maybe it was just a higher quality of bread, but this recipe turned out very well. My french toast tends to be custard in the shape of a piece of bread. With this recipe, you were definitely still eating a piece of bread that had just happened to have egg soaked into it.
The sweet sauce was good. Maybe not a replacement for syrup but it was pretty good. It was mellow and it took quite a bit to be able to get the taste of it. It was still yummy, though. I didn’t use any syrup on mine but the boys broke open the bottle. I couldn’t expect any more of them, though, when it was Boysenberry syrup.
Will this take the place of our normal french toast? Maybe. Probably. It will probably be modified a little bit (I don’t think I am going to cut up and leave bread to dry overnight all the time, but now and again, sure) but I think we will use it. The thick bread is definitely staying a part of our regular recipe.
How Accurate Is It?: This mostly as accurate as you can get cooking on a modern stove. We did switch butter out for sausage grease for the first batch. But we ended up using a bit of butter in the end. We also probably didn’t let the bread ‘soak’ for long enough after dipping it in the egg. The recipe calls for fifteen minutes and I think the first batch only sat for about five minutes.