What greater culinary indulgence than a breakfast of dessert?
Pain perdu is a classic French dessert that is as tasty as it is frugal; a delectable excuse for reclaiming that stale, forgotten white loaf.
Its simple heart sounds far from glamorous, being little more than fried slabs of soggy old bread, but the crispy exterior and spongey, slightly gooey centre come in to their own with a dollop of poached fruit or tumble of sweet summer berries.
On a lazy, overcast Sunday in the deep quiet of first light, steam trailing from your coffee cup, it's a small, simple indulgence, and the perfect way to say, "good morning, world".
PAIN PERDU (Adapted ever so slightly from River Cottage Handbook No.3: Bread by Daniel Stevens)
- 2 thick slices stale white bread
- 2 large free-range eggs
- 50 g caster sugar
- 100 ml milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
Remove crusts from the bread slices and cut in half diagonally. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs, sugar and zest until the sugar has dissolved. Add the milk and vanilla extract and whisk to combine. Lay the bread slices in the dish, leave for 1-2 minutes, then turn over and leave for another 1-2 minutes.
Set a frying pan over medium-low heat. Once the bread has soaked add a knob of butter—enough to just coat the bottom of the pan when melted—and heat until frothing. Lay as many bread slices in the pan as will comfortably fit and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Remove the pain perdu from the pan and serve straight away, with your choice of fruits and a drizzle of honey.