Classic French Toast

Transform any leftover, stale bread into a delicious and decadent French Toast! Easy French Toast recipe with step-by-step photos.

stack of french toast with strawberries

French Toast

This is the French Toast that dreams are made of. Thick, pillowy slices of bread soaked in eggs and milk, lightly scented with vanilla and cinnamon, generously sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, followed by a drizzle of warm maple syrup. Could breakfast get any better?

What is French Toast?

As the name suggests, French Toast originates from France where it is called “Pain Perdu” or “lost bread“. The recipe came about as a way to use up leftover and stale bread, i.e. “lost” bread.

The bread is soaked in a mixture of milk and eggs (called a custard), and then pan-fried in butter.

What started out as a economical way of using up stale bread has, over the years, become a fancy and slightly indulgent breakfast with the addition of maple syrup and exotic fruits.

stack of french toast on plate with maple syrup

What Type of Bread to Use for French Toast

In France, Pain Perdu is made from any leftover crusty bread. Ideally, the bread should be slightly stale so that it is dry enough to soak up the custard.

These days, you can make French Toast using almost any type of bread, including:

  • French baguette – cut thick slices on the diagonal;
  • Brioche – thickly slice a French Brioche Loaf or a Brioche Bread for a decadent French Toast;
  • Shokupan – this Japanese Milk Bread is my favourite for making French Toast (also shown in these photos);
  • Challah or Butterzopf – thickly slice these buttery, braided loaves;
  • Fruit Bread – for a lightly spiced and fruity French Toast;
  • White loaf bread – look for unsliced white loaf from your local bakery.

French Toast Recipe

A good French Toast recipe starts with good bread (see above). The rest are ingredients you are likely to already have in your fridge and pantry – milk and eggs.

When my son was really young, he used to love “eggy bread”, which was a very simple and plain French Toast without any spices. These days, he’s more likely to ask me to triple the cinnamon and nutmeg! So simply adjust the spices to suit your tastes.

If you have the time and patience, kids also love French Toast cut into shapes with large cookie cutters, such as stars or hearts. Make sure you use a large cutter to minimise waste.

plate of french toast with strawberries and maple syrup

Japanese French Toast

The inspiration for my French Toast recipe comes via Japan, or, more specifically, Tokyo. There, they make their French Toast using Shokupan, or Japanese Milk Bread, which makes for light and fluffy, almost souffle-like, French Toast.

Tokyo-Style French Toast is typically made with very thickly sliced white bread, at least 4 cm/1.5 inches in thickness, and soaked overnight for ultra tender results.

Although I am not usually organised enough to prepare my breakfast the night before, I do prefer to make my French Toast with Japanese Milk Bread. For this purpose, I like to bake the Shokupan in loaf pan with a lid so that the resulting loaf produces slices which are perfectly square in shape.

{Japanese Milk Bread (Shokupan) recipe with step-by-step photos}

How to Make French Toast

Step 1

Thickly slice a slightly stale loaf of bread into 2.5 cm/1 inch slices (although you can also make French Toast with thinner slices of bread).

If the bread is still somewhat fresh (which you can tell if it is still moist to the touch), then leave the slices on a wire rack for a few hours or overnight to dry out.

When you are ready to cook, use a fork to prick the bread all over and on both sides.

slices of bread for french toast

Step 2

Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl or jug.

french toast mixture in measuring jug with whisk

Step 3

Strain the egg mixture through a fine sieve into a shallow bowl. The bowl should be big enough to comfortably fit one slice of bread.

Discard the contents of the sieve.

This step is to remove the tiny cords attached to the yolk so that the French Toast will have an unblemished look. But you can, by all means, skip this step.

french toast mixture in shallow bowl

Step 4

Whisk the cinnamon and nutmeg into the custard. If you add the spices beforehand, they will be caught in the sieve.

Place a piece of bread into the custard to soak on both sides. This should take about 30 seconds per side, depending on how thick your bread is and how dry it is.

bread soaking in custard for french toast

Step 5

While the bread is soaking, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat with about 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of oil per French Toast.

Once the butter starts to foam, gently place the soaked bread into the pan.

Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, or until lightly golden. The French Toast is generally ready and cooked through in the centre when you see that the centre has puffed up slightly.

Repeat with the remaining slices of bread. You might need to whisk the mixture between each slice of bread so that the spices remain nicely distributed.

Serve immediately with the toppings of your choice.

cooking french toast in a pan

Tips for Making French Toast

  1. Use slightly stale bread. The bread needs to be somewhat dry so that it can soak up the custard without going soggy. If the bread still feels fresh, slice the bread as per the recipe, and leave it aside for a few hours or overnight to dry out.
  2. Use thickly sliced bread. Thick slices of bread will give nice and fluffy results.
  3. Strain the custard. This step is to remove the tiny cords attached to the yolk so that your French Toast will look smooth and unblemished.
  4. Constantly move and turn the bread. This will ensure that the French Toast colours evenly all over.
  5. Use a mix of butter and oil to cook the French Toast. Butter gives a nice richness in cooking, but it also burns easily. So adding oil to the pan will help to stop the butter from burning.
  6. Cook slowly and on medium heat. For thick and fluffy French Toast, you need to cook slowly and on medium heat so that the bread has a chance to cook all the way through to the centre without burning on the outside.

What to Serve with French Toast

Like pancakes and waffles, there are so many ways you can serve French Toast. My favourite serving suggestions for French Toast include:

  • generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar
  • drizzle with warm maple syrup
  • dust with icing sugar (powdered sugar)
  • serve with fresh strawberries or other seasonal berries

More Brunch Recipes

If you are looking for more brunch recipes, you might also like:

Easy Fluffy Pancakes

Easy Waffles

Plain Scones

Print

Classic French Toast

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: French

Transform any leftover, stale bread into a delicious and decadent French Toast! Easy French Toast recipe with step-by-step photos.

Ingredients

For the French Toast

  • 4 slices of slightly stale bread, cut about 2.5 cm/1 inch thick (see Kitchen Notes below)
  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons butter
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil

Serving Suggestions

Instructions

  1. Thickly slice the bread to about 2.5 cm/1 inch thick.
  2. Use a fork to prick the bread all over and on both sides.
  3. Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl or jug.
  4. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a shallow bowl which can comfortably fit once slice of bread.
  5. Discard the contents remaining in the sieve.
  6. Whisk the cinnamon and nutmeg in to the custard mixture. (If you add the spices beforehand, most of it will get caught in the sieve.)
  7. Start soaking one slice of bread, about 30 seconds per side. Try to ensure that the bread has soaked through to the centre.
  8. Meanwhile, heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat with the 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil per French Toast.
  9. Once the butter starts to foam, carefully place a piece of soaked bread into the pan.
  10. Cook the bread for about 3-5 minutes per side, or until nicely golden. I like to move and turn the bread frequently to ensure an even colouring.
  11. The French Toast is generally ready and cooked through once you see that the centre has puffed up slightly.
  12. Repeat with the remaining slices of bread.
  13. Serve immediately.

Kitchen Notes

MAKE AHEAD TIPS
* Make the custard the night before and keep it covered in the fridge.
* Keep the French Toast warm in an oven on a wire rack at 100°C/212°F.

WHAT TYPE OF BREAD TO USE
I recommend using thickly sliced bread to make French Toast, such as the following:
* French baguette
* Brioche Bread or French Brioche Loaf
* Challah or Butterzopf
* Japanese Milk Bread (Shokupan) or white loaf bread
* Fruit Bread
* thin slices of stale bread work too, but you will need to adjust the cooking time.

COOKING WITH KIDS
This is a great recipe for kids to make on their own, or to make for kids. To help you scale down the recipe, here is what you need for one portion of French Toast:
* 1 thick slice of bread or 2 thin slices of bread
* 60 ml (1/4 cup) milk
* 1 egg
* 1-2 teaspoons caster sugar
* dash of vanilla extract
* pinch of ground cinnamon
* pinch of ground nutmeg

CONVERSIONS
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.

Did you make this recipe?

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3 comments

  1. Julie 23 March 2021

    I couldn’t find Shokupan but my local bakery sells Challah. It was painful leaving this gorgeous loaf of bread to hang around and go stale but I’m so glad I did. I also cut very thick slices like yours and these were honestly one of the best French Toast I have ever tasted. I served with raspberries, icing sugar and warm maple syrup.

    Reply
  2. Marion 8 May 2021

    Delicious recipe! I found Shokupan at a Japanese grocer near us and bought it just to try your French Toast recipe. I will only be making French Toast with thick slices now!

    Reply
  3. Karen 8 September 2021

    I’ve tried this recipe with both thickly sliced brioche and Shokupan. The Shokupan is definitely nicer and has a better texture. But my kids loved the version with brioche, so win-win for everyone.

    Reply