French toast, or pain perdu as the French refer to it, can be traced back to just about every western European country from England to Portugal throughout the centuries. In France, french toast is served on feast days, especially around Easter; while in Portugal, it is served around Christmas time. Historically, it was a dish cooked to make use of stale bread that would otherwise be lost or discarded; which is the literal translation of the french name – ‘lost bread’.
French toast is indulgent at the best of times, or as Elmo would say, a ‘sometimes food’; and this festive version is in no way an exception to the rule. The great thing about this recipe is that it is fast and easy and will bring much joyeux to your nöel. You can use day old bread if you prefer and the rum and maple syrup are certainly optional if you want to take it down a notch or two. You can add whichever fruit you prefer, indeed you can add or omit any of the spices.
The basic french toast recipe is simply eggs, milk,sugar (usually castor), and vanilla. Different recipes will add various spices or flavourings. So, try what ever combination you like.
4 slices of large Panettone or 8 slices of small Panettone
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
15ml rum (optional)
Icing sugar to dust
Maple syrup (optional)
In a shallow baking dish, whisk together the eggs and milk until well combined. Whisk in the spices, vanilla extract, muscovado sugar and the rum. Ensure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Place the slices of panettone in the aromatic spicy bath and let them soak up the festive flavours.
Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the soaked slices to the pan and gently brown each side until it is toasty, nutty brown. Each side will take only a minute or two.
Remove from the pan and place it the serving plate. Scatter cherries about the slices and dust with icing sugar.
Maple syrup could be called into action at serving time, but try a slice before you do so, these can be a little rich.