French toast
French toast served at a restaurant
Place of originRoman Empire
Serving temperatureHot, with toppings
Main ingredientsBread, eggs
Ingredients generally usedMilk or cream, herbs, spices, sauces, syrups

French toast is a dish of sliced bread soaked in beaten eggs and often milk or cream, then pan fried. Alternative names and variants include "eggy bread",[1] "Bombay toast", "gypsy toast",[2] and "poor knights" (of Windsor).[3]

When French toast is served as a sweet dish, sugar, vanilla, or cinnamon are also commonly added before pan-frying, and then it may be topped with sugar (often powdered sugar), butter, fruit, or syrup. When it is a savory dish, it is generally fried with a pinch of salt or pepper, and it can then be served with a sauce such as ketchup or mayonnaise.[4][5][6][7]

History and terminology

The earliest known reference to something resembling French toast is in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes dating to the 1st century CE, where it is described as simply aliter dulcia 'another sweet dish'.[8] The recipe says to "Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] fry in oil, cover with honey and serve".[9]

A 14th-century German recipe uses the name Arme Ritter 'poor knights',[10][11] a name also used in English[3] and the Nordic languages. Also in the 14th-century, Taillevent presented a recipe for "tostées dorées".[12] Italian 15th-century culinary expert Martino da Como offers a recipe.[13]

The usual French name is pain perdu (French: [pɛ̃ pɛʁdy] (listen) 'lost bread', reflecting its use of stale or otherwise "lost" bread. It may also be called pain doré 'golden bread' in Canada.[14] There are fifteenth-century English recipes for pain perdu.[10][15][16]

An Austrian and Bavarian term is pafese or pofese, from zuppa pavese, referring to Pavia, Italy.[17] The word "soup" in the dish's name refers to bread soaked in a liquid, a sop. In Hungary, it is commonly called bundáskenyér (lit. "coated bread").[18]

In Ottoman cuisine, a dish of bread soaked in eggs with honey but no milk is called fāvniyye.[19]


French toast topped with fruit, butter and cream, served with maple syrup

Slices of bread are soaked or dipped in a mixture of beaten eggs, often whisked with milk or cream. Sliced or artisan loaves cut to 3/4 to 1" thick are frequently used as the bread of choice.[20] Sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla may be variously added to the mixture. The bread is then fried in butter or olive oil until browned and cooked through. Day-old bread is often used, both for its thrift and because it will soak up more egg mixture without falling apart.[21]

The cooked slices may be served with sugar or sweet toppings such as caramel, ice cream, jam, honey, fruit,[22] and/or maple syrup.


There are many variations. The dipping mixture might not include eggs;[23] and the bread may be soaked in wine, rosewater, or orange juice, either before or after cooking.[24][25]

International versions


In Southern Slavic countries such as Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Bulgaria it is called Prženice or "Pohani kruh". It is eaten sweet or savory and it paired with ajvar, jam, cheese, prosciutto, or sausage.[26]

Brazil and Portugal

Portuguese rabanadas, traditionally served at Christmas

In both Portugal and Brazil, rabanadas are a traditional Christmas dessert.[27] Many recipes often use Tinto or Port wine.[28]


In Denmark, Arme Riddere (Poor Knights) is a sweet breakfast dish that can also be eaten as an afternoon treat or evening dessert. The Danish version of this dish uses sugar with cinnamon instead of plain sugar.[29][30]


In France, pain perdu has a wide range of regional variations.[31]


In Georgia it is known as kikliko (Georgian: ყიყლიყო, romanized: q'iq'liq'o). It is a popular dish for brunch or breakfast and is almost always served as a savory dish. Sometimes different kinds of cheese are also combined.[32][33]


In Germany, Arme Ritter (Poor Knights) or Pofesen are at least known since the 14th century (mentioned in Deutsches Wörterbuch (The German Dictionary) by the Brothers Grimm).[34]


In Greece, it is known as Avgofetes (Greek: Αυγόφετες) or Avgopsomo (Greek: Αυγόψωμο). This dish is a breakfast staple that involves dipping bread in scrambled eggs and frying it. It can be enjoyed in either a savory or sweet flavor profile, with a range of toppings and accompaniments, such as feta and honey.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong-style French toast

Hong Kong-style French toast (Chinese: 西多士; Cantonese Yale: sāidōsí; lit. 'western toast') is typically prepared by combining multiple slices of bread with peanut butter or fruit jam filling, then dipping in beaten egg and deep frying.[35] It is served with butter, and topped with golden syrup or honey.[35][36] It is a typical offering in cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style diners or teahouses).[36] Other types of filling that can be found are meat floss, kaya jam, ham, or beef satay.[35][37]


In India, Bombay toast is a dish sold on the "streets of Mumbai" by hawkers and vendors,[38] Bombay toast is also called Sweet French Bread.[39]


In Norway, Arme Riddere (Poor Knights). Once only a dessert dish, it is now eaten for brunch or breakfast. Most common spices are cinnamon and cardamom.[40][41]


In Romania, it is known as frigănele and, almost always, served as a savory dish, and, often enough, without milk, although milk can be requested at most dinners.[42]


French toast is a familiar menu item in the hawker centres of Singapore, where it is often part of a breakfast set with soft-boiled eggs or coconut jam (kaya).


Torrija[10] is a similar recipe traditionally prepared in Spain for Lent and Holy Week. It is usually made by soaking stale bread in milk or wine with honey and spices. It is dipped in beaten egg and fried with olive oil. This cooking technique breaks down the fibres of the bread and results in a pastry with a crispy outside and smooth inside.[43] It is often sprinkled with cinnamon as a final touch.

Torrijas or torrejas were first mentioned by the Spanish composer, poet and playwright Juan del Encina (1468–1533) in his Cancionero, published in 1496. "Anda acá pastor" has the verse "En cantares nuevos/ gocen sus orejas,/ miel y muchos huevos/ para hacer torrejas,/ aunque sin dolor/ parió al Redentor".[44]

The Netherlands

In The Netherlands, French toast is called wentelteefjes, verloren brood (lost bread), or gewonnen brood (reclaimed bread). It is a sweet breakfast dish that can also be eaten as an afternoon treat or evening dessert. The Dutch version of this dish often uses sugar with cinnamon instead of plain sugar. Wentelteefjes are often associated with childhood, where a grandmother provides her grandchildren with a luxury special sweet breakfast on special occasions.

United Kingdom

In the UK, it is commonly known as eggy bread or occasionally Gypsy toast, served as savory dish.[2]

United States

French toast was popularly served in railroad dining cars of the early and mid-20th century. The Santa Fe was especially known for its French toast, and most of the railroads provided recipes for these and other dining car offerings to the public as a promotional feature.[45]

New Orleans

In New Orleans Louisiana Creole cuisine, French toast is known as pain perdu and is most commonly served as a breakfast dish.[46] The recipe calls for New Orleans-style French bread; the batter is an egg-based custard that may include spirits.[46][47][48] Common toppings include cane syrup, strongly flavored honey, or fruit syrups; a dusting of powdered sugar is also traditional.[47][48]

See also


  1. ^ Beckett, Fiona (18 September 2010). "Student cookbook: French toast (a.k.a. eggy bread)". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
  2. ^ a b Mille (24 February 2002). "Gypsy Toast". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 2006, s.v. 'poor' S3
  4. ^ Rachel Phipps. "Eggy Bread". BBC Food. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  5. ^ Oliver, Jamie. "How to make French toast". Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  6. ^ "Eggy Bread". Australia's best recipes. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  7. ^ "How To Make Yumurtalı Ekmek (Eggy Bread)". Turkey's for life. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  8. ^ Vehling, Joseph Dommers (trans.). Apicius: Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, "Book VII, chapter 13, recipe 296". Project Gutenberg.
  9. ^ "Apicius, Book VII". LacusCurtius.
  10. ^ a b c Koerner, Brendan. "Is French Toast Really French?". Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  11. ^ Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Deutsches Wörterbuch, quoting from the Buch von guter Spyse.
  12. ^ Pichon, Jérôme; Vicaire, Georges (1892). Le Viandier de Guillaume Tirel dit Taillevent. p. 262.
  13. ^ Odile Redon, et al., The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy, 2000, p. 207f
  14. ^ Trésor de la Langue Française Informatisé s.v. pain
  15. ^ Austin, T. Two 15th-century Cookery-books, 1888, quoting a 1450 recipe, quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary.
  16. ^ Davidson, Alan; Jaine, Tom (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. p. 102. ISBN 0-19-280681-5.
  17. ^ Ammon, Ulrich (2004). Variantenwörterbuch des Deutschen: die Standardsprache in Österreich, der Schweiz und Deutschland sowie in Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Ostbelgien und Südtirol, ISBN 3110165759, p. 552.
  18. ^ "French toast, az @édes @bundás kenyér". 28 June 2016.
  19. ^ Nesrin Altun, Kitâb-ı Me’kûlât, 1848?, p. 53.
  20. ^ "what bread options are best for French toast". Culuturalist Press. 7 March 2022. Retrieved 7 March 2022.
  21. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Brown, Alton. "French Toast-Food Network". YouTube.
  22. ^ "French Toast Toppings – Unique French Toast Recipes". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  23. ^ [Compleat Cook (1659) as quoted in the OED Citation incomplete, needs improvement]
  24. ^ Ayto, John. The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink, ISBN 0199640246, p. 142.
  25. ^ Islip, Adam (1611). A Dictionarie [sic] of the French and English Tongues, full text
  26. ^ "PRŽENICE: French toast on Serbian way".
  27. ^ Rabanada, um antigo clássico natalino presente em todo o mundo Archived 29 January 2019 at the Wayback Machine (in Portuguese)
  28. ^ "Rabanadas tradicionais".
  29. ^ Garde, Christian (1 April 2017). "Mærkelige madnavne: Hvorfor hedder det arme riddere?". (in Danish).
  30. ^ Vollmer, Jesper. "Arme riddere". (in Danish).
  31. ^ "Le pain perdu: son histoire et ses origins" [Pain perdu: its history and origins]. (in French). 25 May 2017. Archived from the original on 23 December 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  32. ^ Rimple, Paul (15 November 2021). "Kikliko: For Whom The Rooster Crows". Culinary Backstreets. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  33. ^ "KIKLIKO - GEORGIAN EGGBREAD". Borjomi-Georgian Gastro Guide. Retrieved 22 January 2022.
  34. ^ Grimm, Jacob; Grimm, Wilhelm (eds.). Armeritter. ((cite encyclopedia)): |work= ignored (help)
  35. ^ a b c "World's 50 most delicious foods". CNN Go. 21 July 2011. Archived from the original on 8 October 2011. Retrieved 11 October 2011.
  36. ^ a b Liu, Karon (15 September 2022). "How the Queen's death left me reconciling complicated feelings about the history of my favourite foods". Toronto Star. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  37. ^ "香港獨一無二的沙爹牛肉法式吐司" [Hong Kong's unique beef satay french toast] (in Chinese). Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  38. ^ Jayashri (23 April 2019). "Bombay Toast - Indian French Toast". Three Whistles Kitchen. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  39. ^ White, Bridget. "Sweet French Toast (Bombay Toast) - Anglo-Indian - Family friendly - Recipe". Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  40. ^ "Arme riddere".
  41. ^ "Arme Riddere Med Blåbær - Oppskrift fra TINE Kjøkken". Retrieved 19 August 2022.
  42. ^ "Friganele reteta copilariei – paine cu ou sau bundás kenyér". (in Romanian). 5 April 2018.
  43. ^ Lepard, Dan (20 July 2012). "Dan Lepard's recipes for Basque butter buns, plus fried milk bread (a.k.a. torrija)". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  44. ^ Haro Cortés, Marta. "La teatralidad en los villancicos pastoriles de Juan del Encina". Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
  45. ^ Kelly, John (21 February 2001). "Last call to dinner". Classic Trains Magazine. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  46. ^ a b Tabacca, Laura (2 March 2014). "New Orleans Style Pain Perdu (French Toast)". The Spiced Life. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  47. ^ a b "Pain Perdu". The Gumbo Pages. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  48. ^ a b Mitzewich, John. "New Orleans-style French Toast "Pain Perdu"". The Spruce. Retrieved 25 November 2017.

Further reading