How to make pain perdu like a New Orleans native

BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD – THE SOUTHFACIN’ COOK   

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

“Pain Perdu” means “lost bread,” which in this case is from a loaf of French bread. (Typing a pronunciation is a little difficult to spell out other than “pan” has a short “a” like in “bran” but you come off the “n” pretty quickly. Perdu – first syllable is like the first in berry, and second syllable is the strong emphasis, “dew.” I’m sure that explains it.)

My son loves this French toast, so I nearly always make it when he visits. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft, custardy inside. Top with a little butter and powered sugar and add some fresh sliced strawberries – ooh, la la!

EQUIPMENT

  • griddle (electric or stovetop),
  • medium bowl
  • shallow casserole dish
  • whisk
  • microplane
  • measuring equipment
  • spatula
  • baking sheet
  • parchment paper
  • cutting board
  • bread knife

INGREDIENTS

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 8 thick slices of day old French bread (staler bread is fine as long as you can slice it)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • powdered sugar (optional)

LET’S GET STARTED

In your mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add eggs and whisk into creamy paste.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

Slowly add milk and cream, whisking until lumps are gone.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

On your cutting board, slice bread on the diagonal for larger pieces about 1 1/2 thick. Cut 4 pieces per person. This much custard mixture probably is enough for at least 4-6 servings of this size.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

In your shallow casserole dish, pour custard about 1/2 inch deep. Place bread slices into mixture and let it soak up liquid for 3-4 minutes. Turn and soak for another 3-4 minutes. Use a fork to “feel”  if the liquid’s soaked well. Repeat flip, if you think it needs more liquid.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

With your spatula, place each slice onto a parchment paper lined baking dish to continue absorption about 15 minutes.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

Heat your griddle. When it’s ready, stick a fork into a 1/2 inch slice of cold butter and drag it around to grease the griddle. Place your custard-bread slices onto your griddle with about an inch in between. Grill on medium-high heat about 5 minutes until a nice brown crust has formed. Flip the slices and grill another 5 minutes. That ought to make the slices crusty and cook the custard through the center. (If you want to keep the slices warm until you can serve everybody, heat oven to 200 degrees, put a wire rack on top of a baking dish and hold slices there until they’re all cooked.)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

SERVE:

Place crusty slices on your plate. Add a little more butter on top, if you like, and scatter powdered sugar over the top, along with strawberries. Some folks like syrup on top like pancakes. Whatever your top them with, expect the result to be yummy.

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to cook pain perdu like a New Orleans native (photo by Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

Come back to NewinNOLA.com every week for “Southfacin’ Cook,” where Patsy explains the basics to Southern cooking and eating. Contact her with suggestions, questions or requests at patsy.brumfield@gmail.com.

Previous recipes from Patsy:

• Hummus
• Gumbo
• Quiche

6 thoughts on “How to make pain perdu like a New Orleans native

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