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Delicious Pain Perdu Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide

Embark on a delightful culinary journey as you learn the classic French dish, Pain Perdu. Also known as French Toast, this scrumptious meal is perfect for breakfast or brunch, combining sweet and savory flavors with a soft yet crispy texture. Throughout this guide, you’ll explore essential ingredients, techniques, and tips that will elevate your Pain Perdu skills and transform you into a bona fide expert in no time.

Gathering Ingredients

Ingredients for Making Pain Perdu:

  • Bread: Ideally, use day-old French bread or brioche, but any thick-sliced bread will work. It’s important that the bread is not too fresh, as slightly stale bread will better soak up the custard mixture. You will need around 8 slices of bread, cut about 1-inch thick.
  • Milk: Get 1 cup (240 ml) of whole milk. This will help to form the base for the custard mixture that will coat your bread.
  • Eggs: Grab 4 large eggs. These will provide extra-rich flavor and structure to your Pain Perdu.
  • Vanilla extract: You’ll need 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. This adds a subtle sweetness and depth of flavor to your dish.
  • Sugar: Get ¼ cup (50g) of granulated sugar, which will sweeten your Pain Perdu without making it overly sweet.
  • Cinnamon: Have 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon on hand. This warm spice adds a gentle heat to your Pain Perdu and complements the overall flavor profile.
  • Nutmeg: You will need ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg to give your Pain Perdu a touch of earthy, aromatic warmth.
  • Salt: Have a pinch of salt to enhance the flavors and provide a delicate balance to the sweetness.

Optional ingredients:

  • Fruits: You can add fresh berries, diced apples, or sliced bananas as a topping to enhance the flavor.
  • Syrup: Maple syrup or honey can be drizzled over the Pain Perdu for increased sweetness.
  • Powdered sugar: Give your Pain Perdu a final, elegant touch with a light dusting of powdered sugar just before serving.

Method of Making Pain Perdu:

First, take a mixing bowl and whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla extract, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until everything is properly combined.

Next, dip each bread slice into the custard mixture, turning once to coat each side. Make sure that every slice is thoroughly coated.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and let it melt. Once melted, add your bread slices and cook for around 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Remove the bread from the skillet and let them cool for a few minutes. Serve your Pain Perdu with fresh fruits or syrup, and a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!

Pain Perdu beautifully plated with fresh fruits and powdered sugar on top

Selecting the Right Bread

Selecting the Right Bread for Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu, also known as French Toast, is a delicious dish made by soaking stale bread in a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, and spices before cooking. The choice of bread is crucial to create the perfect Pain Perdu. Selecting the right type, age, and condition of the bread will significantly impact the taste and texture of the final dish. This guide will help you understand the importance of choosing the ideal type of bread and the perfect day-old or stale condition for making Pain Perdu.

Step 1: Choosing the Bread Type

1.1 French Bread

  • French bread, or baguette, is a classic choice for Pain Perdu due to its dense but light crumb structure, which allows the bread to absorb the custard evenly. The crusty exterior also helps maintain the shape and texture when cooked.
  • When selecting French bread for Pain Perdu, opt for a medium to narrow-width baguette with a crispy crust and soft interior.

1.2 Brioche

  • Brioche is a richer option for Pain Perdu, as it is a slightly sweet bread made with butter, milk, and eggs. The higher fat content in brioche enhances the texture and flavor of the final dish. Brioche also has a tender crumb structure that absorbs the custard perfectly.
  • When selecting brioche for Pain Perdu, choose a loaf with a golden crust and a soft, slightly dense interior.

1.3 Other Options

Although French bread and brioche are the most popular choices for Pain Perdu, you can also experiment with other types of bread like sourdough, challah, or even a dense white sandwich bread. Just remember that the bread needs to have a good structure that can hold up to soaking in the custard mixture without becoming mushy.

Step 2: Identifying the Perfect Age and Condition

2.1 Day-old or Stale Bread

Pain Perdu literally translates to “lost bread,” as it was originally created to salvage stale bread. When bread becomes slightly stale, it loses some moisture, making it more absorbent. This allows the bread to soak up the custard mixture without falling apart.

A good indicator of the ideal staleness for Pain Perdu is when the bread is no longer soft and fresh, but not so dry and hard that it’s difficult to cut or chew.

2.2 Preparation

If you’re using fresh bread, you can accelerate the staling process by laying the bread slices out on a rack or cutting board, uncovered, for several hours or overnight. This will allow the bread to lose some moisture and achieve the desired texture for Pain Perdu.

You can also place the bread slices in a low-heat oven (around 200°F) for 15-20 minutes, turning them halfway through the process. The goal is to dry out the exterior without fully toasting the bread.


Selecting the right type of bread, such as French bread or brioche, and ensuring it is in the perfect day-old or stale condition is essential to create delicious Pain Perdu. Understanding these factors and taking the time to choose and prepare your bread will significantly enhance the flavor, texture, and overall satisfaction of your homemade Pain Perdu.

Slices of French bread and brioche bread on a cutting board next to a bowl of custard mixture

Preparing the Custard Mixture

Pain Perdu Recipe

Pain Perdu, also known as French toast, is a delicious brunch classic made by dipping slices of bread into a rich custard mixture and frying them to golden brown perfection. Preparing the custard mixture is a crucial step in making Pain Perdu. Follow these instructions to ensure your custard mixture has the perfect balance of flavors and consistency.


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Gather and measure all your ingredients. This includes the whole milk, eggs, granulated sugar, pure vanilla extract, and optional spices such as ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Preparing all your ingredients before starting will make the whisking process easier and more efficient.
  2. In a large shallow dish, pour in 1 cup of whole milk. A shallow dish such as a pie plate works well for this, as it will make it easier for you to dip the bread slices in the custard mixture later.
  3. Crack your 4 large eggs into a separate bowl. To prevent any pieces of eggshell from falling into the mixture, it’s a good idea to crack each egg on a flat surface, like your countertop, rather than on the rim of the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs to the milk in the shallow dish, and whisk until fully combined. Gently beat the eggs with a whisk or fork to incorporate them with the milk without creating too many air bubbles.
  5. Add the granulated sugar, 1/4 cup, to the milk and egg mixture. Continue whisking to thoroughly combine and dissolve the sugar into the mixture.
  6. Stir in 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract to the custard mixture, adding a depth of flavor to your Pain Perdu.
  7. Add in your optional spices. For a classic Pain Perdu flavor, whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg. For a more straightforward custard mix, you can omit the spices. Customize the recipe to suit your preferences.
  8. Add a pinch of salt to the custard mixture. The salt helps to enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in your custard mix.
  9. Continuing whisking all the ingredients together until you have a smooth, homogenous custard mixture. Ensure there are no lumps and everything is well-combined.
  10. Allow the mixture to rest for a few minutes. This step is optional, but it can help any air bubbles that may have formed during whisking to dissipate, resulting in a smoother custard when dipping the bread slices.

Congratulations! You’ve now prepared your custard mixture for Pain Perdu. Use this rich, flavorful mix to dip your choice of bread slices and cook them to golden brown, crispy perfection. Enjoy the classic taste of Pain Perdu!

Golden-brown Pain Perdu on a plate with powdered sugar and a cup of coffee on the side

Soaking the Bread

Pain Perdu Recipe

Pain Perdu, also known as French Toast, is a delicious and easy-to-make dish that requires proper technique in soaking the bread. The key is to dip each bread slice in the custard mixture and ensure it is well saturated but not soggy. Follow these instructions to learn the technique of properly soaking the bread in the custard mixture.


  • 1 loaf of day-old bread (preferably thicker-sliced like brioche or challah)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Unsalted butter for cooking


  1. Prepare the Custard Mixture:

    In a large, shallow dish (like a pie plate or rectangular baking dish), whisk together the eggs, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and salt until well combined. Set aside.

  2. Slice the Bread:

    If not already sliced, cut the day-old bread into 1-inch to 1.5-inch thick slices using a serrated bread knife. Thicker slices will hold up better in the custard mixture and not fall apart as easily. Stale bread is preferred as it will absorb the custard better without becoming soggy.

  3. Soak the Bread:

    Take one bread slice at a time and dip it quickly into the custard mixture, using a fork or tongs to hold the bread. Be sure to flip the slice to coat both sides, submerging it for a brief moment. Holding the bread slice over the dish, let the excess custard mixture drip back into the dish.

    Note: The exact soaking time will depend on the type of bread you are using. For a denser bread like brioche or challah, a quick dunk should suffice. For softer bread, you might need to let it sit in the custard for a few seconds longer, but still avoid soaking it for too long to prevent sogginess.

  4. Transfer the Soaked Bread:

    Move the soaked bread slice to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to allow any remaining excess custard to drip off. Repeat with the rest of the bread slices.

  5. Cook the Pain Perdu:

    Preheat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Melt a little butter in the skillet, then add the soaked bread slices in a single layer (you may need to cook in batches). Cook each side for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, then flip to cook the other side. Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, or your desired toppings.

Enjoy your perfectly soaked and cooked Pain Perdu!

A stack of golden-brown Pain Perdu, topped with powdered sugar and syrup, served on a white plate with a fork

Cooking the Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu Recipe

Pain Perdu, also known as French Toast, is a delicious breakfast or dessert dish that is easy to prepare. Follow these straightforward instructions to cook the perfect Pain Perdu, ensuring that it is golden brown and scrumptious.


  • 8 thick slices of day-old bread (preferably Brioche or Challah)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk or half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Maple syrup, powdered sugar, or your favorite toppings


  1. Prepare the custard mixture: In a large, shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt until thoroughly combined.
  2. Preheat your cooking surface: Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. You can also use a cast-iron skillet or an electric griddle; just ensure that it is adequately preheated with the temperature between 325°F and 350°F.
  3. Soak the bread slices: One at a time, dip each slice of bread into the custard mixture, allowing it to absorb the liquid for about 15-20 seconds on each side. Be careful not to oversoak the bread, as it can become too soggy and difficult to cook. It should be moist but still able to hold its shape.
  4. Cook the Pain Perdu: Melt a tablespoon of butter in the preheated skillet or griddle, making sure it covers the entire cooking surface. Gently place the soaked bread slices in the skillet or griddle, spacing them apart to avoid crowding.
  5. Fry until golden brown: Cook the slices for 3-4 minutes on the first side until they turn golden brown. Use a spatula to carefully flip the slices and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. The Pain Perdu should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
  6. Add more butter when necessary: When frying subsequent batches of soaked bread, ensure you add more butter as needed to prevent sticking and to maintain the golden crust.
  7. Keep the cooked Pain Perdu warm: As you cook each batch of Pain Perdu, transfer them to a plate or oven-safe dish and keep them warm in a preheated oven set to the “keep warm” setting or around 200°F.
  8. Serve with desired toppings: Once all the slices are cooked, serve your Pain Perdu warm with maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or your favorite toppings.

Enjoy your delicious, golden brown Pain Perdu and impress your family or friends with your newfound cooking skills!

Golden brown Pain Perdu served with powdered sugar and blackberries

Serving and Toppings

Title: Serving and Toppings for Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu, also known as French Toast, is a delicious and versatile dish that can be enjoyed for breakfast or dessert. By adding a variety of toppings to this classic dish, you can elevate its presentation and create a mouth-watering feast for the eyes and taste buds. In this guide, we will explore different serving options, such as fruit compotes, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and whipped cream to enhance your Pain Perdu experience.


  1. Start with a beautifully cooked plate of Pain Perdu. Make sure your slices of bread are golden brown, soaked in a flavorful batter of egg, milk, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon or nutmeg.
  2. Fruit Compotes:

    Enhance your dish by incorporating a fruity element, such as berry, apple, or peach compote:

    • For a berry compote, combine a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries with sugar and a splash of water in a saucepan. Cook for about 5-10 minutes over medium heat until the berries have softened and the sauce has thickened.
    • For apple or peach compote, peel, core, and slice your fruit thinly. Cook the fruit with butter, sugar, and a touch of cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until the fruit is tender and the sauce is thick.
    • The compote can be served warm or cold. Spoon a generous amount over your cooked Pain Perdu.
  3. Maple Syrup:

    Drizzle warm, pure maple syrup over the Pain Perdu for a classic and indulgent experience.

  4. Powdered Sugar:

    For an elegant, snow-like effect, dust your Pain Perdu with powdered sugar:

    • Place a small amount of powdered sugar in a fine-mesh sieve or a sifter.
    • Hold the sieve or sifter about 6-8 inches above the plate, and gently tap the edge to allow a delicate dusting of powdered sugar to fall evenly over the Pain Perdu.
  5. Whipped Cream:

    Add a dollop of freshly whipped cream on top of your Pain Perdu for a luxurious touch. To make your whipped cream:

    1. Chill a mixing bowl and a whisk or beaters in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
    2. Pour 1 cup of cold heavy whipping cream into the bowl, and whip on medium-high speed (or vigorously by hand) until it begins to thicken.
    3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, continuing to whip until soft peaks form.
    4. Be sure not to over-whip, as the cream will become grainy or even turn into butter.
  6. Additional Toppings:

    Feel free to get creative and add other toppings such as your favorite fruit, toasted nuts, chocolate chips, or a dusting of cocoa powder.

  7. Serve:

    Present your beautifully topped Pain Perdu with a smile and enjoy the delicious results!


By incorporating various serving options like fruit compotes, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and whipped cream, you can elevate your Pain Perdu presentation and provide a delightful, memorable experience for friends and family. Don’t be afraid to get creative and explore different toppings to personalize this versatile dish. Happy cooking and bon appétit!

Troubleshooting Pain Perdu

Troubleshooting Pain Perdu: Identifying and Fixing Common Issues

Pain Perdu, also known as French toast, is a delicious breakfast dish made by dipping slices of bread in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, and spices before frying them until golden brown.

Although it’s a simple recipe, there are a few common issues that can arise while making Pain Perdu. Here are some tips to help you troubleshoot these problems and create the perfect Pain Perdu.

Soggy Pain Perdu

Soggy French toast is often the result of bread slices that soaked up too much liquid during the dipping process or undercooked slices.

  • To prevent the bread from becoming overly saturated with the egg mixture, dip the slices quickly (only a few seconds per side) and use a fork or slotted spatula to allow excess liquid to drip off.
  • If you still find your Pain Perdu too soggy, consider using slightly stale or day-old bread, as it will absorb less liquid compared to fresh bread.
  • Ensure your pan is heated to medium before adding the bread slices and cook them until they turn golden brown on each side. when cooked at the right temperature, the outside will be crispy, while the inside remains soft and custard-like.

Dry Pain Perdu

Dry and unappetizing Pain Perdu can arise when the bread used is too dry or it is overcooked.

  • If using very stale or dry bread, try adding a little more milk to your egg mixture to help rehydrate and moisten the bread.
  • Keep an eye on your cooking time and be sure not to overcook the Pain Perdu. Lower the heat and increase cooking time slightly if necessary.
  • If your cooked Pain Perdu still turns out dry, try serving it with some warm syrup, fruit compote, or a dollop of whipped cream to add moisture and flavor.

Uneven Cooking

Unevenly cooked Pain Perdu can result in some parts being undercooked, while others become overcooked.

  • Make sure your pan is evenly heated before adding the bread slices, and rotate the pan if you notice uneven heating.
  • Adjust the cooking temperature if it’s too high or too low. Cooking on medium heat should allow enough time for the center of the bread to cook without overcooking the outside.
  • Cook Pain Perdu in batches if your pan isn’t large enough to accommodate all slices without overcrowding. This will ensure more even cooking for each slice.

Bland Pain Perdu

Bland Pain Perdu is often due to an egg mixture that lacks flavor or not using the right toppings.

  • To enhance the flavor of your Pain Perdu, add some cinnamon, nutmeg, or even a small splash of vanilla extract to your egg mixture.
  • To balance sweetness, use a balance of sugar and salt in the mixture.
  • Experiment with different types of bread such as brioche or challah to add a new dimension of flavor and texture.
  • Don’t forget to serve your Pain Perdu with a variety of toppings, such as maple syrup, powdered sugar, fresh fruit, or even a sprinkling of your favorite nuts and seeds.

In conclusion, the key to perfect Pain Perdu is addressing and preventing these common issues. With a bit of practice and attention to detail, you’ll be able to cook the perfect Pain Perdu for your family and friends to enjoy!

Pain Perdu, or French toast, golden brown and piled high on a plate with syrup and berries

Storing and Reheating

Storing and Reheating Pain Perdu

Storing Pain Perdu:

  • Allow it to cool: After cooking your Pain Perdu, let it cool down to room temperature to prevent condensation and sogginess when storing.
  • Wrap and store: Once cooled, wrap each slice individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to further prevent moisture. Alternatively, place the slices in a single layer between sheets of wax paper or parchment paper in an airtight container.
  • Refrigerate: If you plan to eat your Pain Perdu within 1-2 days, store the wrapped slices or airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Freeze for long term storage: For longer storage, place the wrapped slices or airtight container in the freezer. Pain Perdu can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month without losing its quality.

Reheating Pain Perdu:

1. Thaw if frozen: If you have stored your Pain Perdu in the freezer, transfer it to the refrigerator the night before to thaw. If you need to reheat quickly, you can use the microwave, but be cautious not to overheat as it may become too soggy.

2. Oven method: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Remove the wrapping from the Pain Perdu and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the slices for 5-10 minutes or until heated through and crispy on the outside.

3. Toaster oven: If you have a toaster oven, place the unwrapped slices directly on the oven rack and toast at a medium setting until heated through and crispy.

4. Stovetop method: In a non-stick skillet, heat a little bit of unsalted butter over medium heat. Place the unwrapped Pain Perdu slices in the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side until heated through and crispy on the outside.

5. Air fryer: For an even crispier texture, reheat the Pain Perdu in an air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 3-5 minutes, flipping once halfway through.

6. Serve immediately: Once your Pain Perdu is heated through and crispy, serve and enjoy with toppings of your choice like maple syrup, powdered sugar, or fresh fruit.

Pain Perdu being served with powdered sugar and fresh berries

Exploring Variation Recipes

Exploring Variation Recipes: Create Unique and Delicious Variations of Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu, also known as French Toast, is a universally-loved breakfast dish made from slices of bread soaked in a mixture of milk, eggs, and sugar, then fried to perfection. But why settle for the traditional recipe when you can create exciting new variations? In this guide, we’ll explore different ingredients and methods to make unique and delicious versions of Pain Perdu, including stuffed options and vegan alternatives. Let’s dive in!

Part 1: Choosing Your Bread

The bread is the foundation of your Pain Perdu. Classic French Toast uses thick slices of white bread, but you can experiment with different types to add flavor and texture variations.

  • Brioche or challah: Rich, buttery, and slightly sweet, these breads make for a luxurious Pain Perdu.
  • Sourdough or artisanal bread: A crusty loaf with a tangy flavor adds depth and crunch to your dish.
  • Cinnamon swirl bread: Pre-flavored with cinnamon, this bread can elevate your recipe with minimal effort.
  • Gluten-free or vegan bread: Accommodate dietary restrictions without sacrificing taste.

Part 2: The Soaking Mixture

Traditional Pain Perdu calls for a mixture of milk, eggs, and sugar. Elevate this base by using different liquids or adding flavorful ingredients.

  1. Substitute milk with heavy cream or half-and-half to make a richer, creamier French Toast.
  2. Use coconut milk or almond milk for a dairy-free or vegan alternative.
  3. Flavor the mixture by adding vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange zest, or cocoa powder.
  4. Replace sugar with maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar for a natural sweetness.

Part 3: Stuffed Pain Perdu

Pump up the indulgence factor by stuffing your Pain Perdu with delicious fillings.

  • Cream cheese: Soften cream cheese and mix with powdered sugar and a flavoring like vanilla, lemon zest, or raspberry preserves. Spread between two slices of bread and proceed with the regular Pain Perdu process.
  • Peanut butter and banana: Spread peanut butter on one slice of bread and layer banana slices on top. Cover with another slice of bread and soak in the mixture. Fry sandwich-style or cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • Nutella and strawberries: Spread Nutella on one slice of bread, top with sliced strawberries, and cover with another slice. Proceed as with the peanut butter and banana version.
  • Savory spin: Add some grated cheese, bacon, or ham between bread slices for a sweet-and-savory twist.

Part 4: Vegan Pain Perdu

To make vegan Pain Perdu, replace the traditional milk and eggs with dairy-free milk and an egg substitute.

  1. Use a vegan bread, free of eggs and dairy.
  2. Replace milk with almond milk, soy milk, or any other plant-based milk.
  3. For the egg substitute, use a commercial vegan egg replacer, or make a flaxseed “egg” by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and let sit for 10-15 minutes until the texture is thick and sticky.

Follow the regular Pain Perdu process, soaking the bread in your dairy-free, egg-free mixture before frying in vegan butter or oil.


Don’t be afraid to get creative and mix-and-match the variations listed above. Try out different breads, fillings, and flavorings to find your favorite combination and treat your taste buds to a unique and delicious Pain Perdu experience.

A delicious plate of Pain Perdu, with thick slices of bread coated in egg mixture, topped with berries and powdered sugar, and served with syrup and butter.

By incorporating these guidelines into your cooking repertoire, not only will you be able to perfect the traditional Pain Perdu, but also unlock a world of delicious variations to suit every palate. Impress your family, friends, or simply pamper yourself with this heavenly dish. Bon appétit!

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