Pain perdu is the kind of dish Americans indulge in for breakfast, and the French indulge in for dessert. This custard-laden toast is an absolute dream with fresh strawberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.
Pain perdu literally translates to lost bread in English, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when you first learn of the translation. But if you dive a little deeper into the meaning behind it, pain perdu is a completely fitting name.
When you’re making pain perdu, you want to use day-old, slightly stale bread. In most scenarios, stale bread is tossed out, a “lost” ingredient.
With pain perdu, stale bread is not only saved but preferred. Using stale bread ensures the bread absorbs all of the delicious custard batter without becoming mushy.
Because you’ll definitely want to soak up as much of the scrumptious custard batter as you can. Made with a splash of orange liqueur and orange zest, the custard for pain perdu is fragrant and tantalizing in flavor.
A variety of breads can be used to make pain perdu, but my personal favorite is brioche. Brioche is an enriched bread, made with butter, milk, and eggs.
Like other enriched breads (think challah bread), it’s also on the slightly sweeter side, which makes it perfect for a sweet recipe like this.
While the French will enjoy a slice of brioche with jam for breakfast, pain perdu is typically considered too indulgent for a morning meal. Instead, it’s served for dessert.
I tend to agree that such recipes are better left for dessert, but I do find myself craving this pain perdu on an occasional Sunday morning. What can I say? It’s the American in me.
I also love creating this dish for special brunches, like Mother’s Day brunch. My mom is a big fan of pain perdu, or French toast.
Like most custard desserts, pain perdu tastes wonderful with a variety of fruits. This is your chance to incorporate whatever is seasonally available and fresh for you.
Given that it’s spring right now, fresh strawberries are excellent with pain perdu. I just remove the stems from my strawberries and slice them up before garnishing my pain perdu with them.
A little bit of maple syrup and dusting of powdered sugar is all you need to make this pain perdu absolutely incredible.
Pain Perdu with Fresh Strawberries
A tantalizing breakfast or dessert made up of custard-laden brioche, pan-fried until crisp then garnished with maple syrup and fresh strawberries.
- 4 thick slices of day-old brioche
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup whole milk (80 ml)
- 1 tsp orange zest (2 grams)
- 1 tsp orange liqueur or vanilla extract (5 ml)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar (4 grams)
- 1 cup fresh strawberries (144 grams) stems removed, sliced
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (28 grams) divided, for the pan
- powdered sugar to garnish
- maple syrup to drizzle on top
- sliced almonds to garnish
To a medium, shallow bowl, add the eggs, milk, orange zest, orange liqueur, and granulated sugar. Whisk to combine and break up the eggs completely.
In a medium pan over medium heat, melt 1/2 a tablespoon of butter, moving the pan from side to side to evenly distribute the melted butter.
Use a fork to dip a slice of brioche into the liquid batter, dipping both sides of the brioche. Place the brioche into the prepared pan, cooking each side for approximately 1 minute, or until it's golden brown and crisp. Repeat this step for the remaining brioche slices, melting a 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the pan before frying each piece of bread.
Cut each brioche slice in half, diagonally, and garnish with strawberry slices and almond slices. Drizzle maple syrup all over, then dust with powdered sugar.
You can keep your brioche slices warm until you're ready to garnish by placing them on a baking sheet and storing them in an oven with the warm setting on.