Good cooks in many cultures have found delicious ways to revive stale or leftover bread. But the French take first prize with their simple recipe for pain perdu, literally "lost bread," which we have come to know as French toast. Once you've mastered the basics -- coating slices of bread in an egg-and-milk mixture and sauteeing them -- a range of possibilities opens.
Related: Martha's Best Comfort Food Recipes
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
Juice of 1 medium orange, (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cognac, (optional)
1 tablespoon sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, (about 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
6 slices bread, such as brioche, sliced 1-inch thick, preferably day-old
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Pure maple syrup, (optional)
Whisk together eggs, milk, juice, vanilla, cognac, sugar, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Place bread in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold bread slices in a single layer. Pour egg mixture over bread; soak 10 minutes. Turn slices over; soak 10 minutes more or until soaked through.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Fry half the bread slices until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to wire rack; place in oven while cooking remaining bread. Wipe skillet, and repeat with remaining butter, oil, and bread. Keep in oven until ready to serve. Serve warm with maple syrup, if desired.
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