Did you know that pancakes originated from the Ancient Greeks? Better yet, did you know that in France, French toast is known as “pain perdu”, which means lost bread and that they’re actually baked, not pan-fried?
Don’t worry, this is isn’t going to be a history lesson or anything, I just wanted to start off with a couple of facts before the main event. What they do have in common is that the two are usually categorized as comfort foods; we know that comfort foods are often considered “unhealthy” because they are generally crammed with calories. But they don’t have to be. The best way to exercise a little control when consuming comfort food is to learn to prepare your favourite dishes yourself… at least that’s how I feel.
So, you want to make some good and rather healthy pancakes? Here’s a tip: try a Google Image search for a dish you like (pancakes in this case), follow a few links to gather a mixture of recipes when you see something you like, and then create something comforting with a touch of healthy. That’s it!
I searched for ”pancakes” on Google images, and stumbled on a few different recipes, including apple and cinnamon oatmeal pancakes. After writing down a few things from each recipe, I cooked up the above with what was available in my pantry, and served it with Canadian Maple Syrup and a cup of hot cocoa. Simple right!
Now, how about some French toast? Easy … Do the same thing! There are so many different ways to make great things using basic ingredients. I made my version using fewer egg yolks, some organic 2% milk, cinnamon, and organic French bread … and the below recipe is what came out. All I did was plate it, and snap a couple of pictures.
Care to take a stab at my version of pain perdu?
Pain Perdu Recipe
Yield: 2-4 servings. You will need both a deep baking dish and some baking paper.
3/4 to 1 full baguette of French bread (at least a day old)
1 cup of milk (any milk you use will do)
2 whole eggs
1 tsp. of nutmeg (adjust to taste)
1 tsp. of vanilla extract (add more if you like it)
2 or 3 tbsp. of brown sugar
1 tbsp. of unsalted butter
Unsalted butter (to lightly butter each toast)
- Cut the French bread into 1 inch vertical chunks. Add a small amount of butter on both faces of each bread slice and lay the chunks flat in a deep dish (at least 2 to 4 inches) with a flat bottom.
- Mix together milk, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Taste the batter to make sure it’s lightly sweetened. Of course, you don’t want it to be too sweet because sugar or syrup can be added right before serving for that extra crunch.
- Next, drown the chunks of bread by pouring batter into the dish where the bread slices rested earlier. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Soak longer if necessary. In case of batter shortage, flip each chunk of bread over after 30 minutes to allow some of the batter to flow down the opposite sides. Then allow time to rest (30 minutes to an hour).
- Pre-heat the oven at 425 °F (218 °C), spray or butter an aluminum cookie sheet (1 tbsp. unsalted butter), and lay all of the chunks of bread flat across it. Bake at 425 °F (218 °C) for 20 to 30 minutes depending on your oven. When ready, the toasts will have a nice golden colour, and will be crispy.
- Stack the hot toasts in a large serving dish, sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar (optional), powdered sugar for decoration, and your favourite syrup if you have one (Canadian maple syrup used here). Then serve immediately!
Don’t constrain yourself to this recipe. Feel free to modify and add to it. Home cooking is all about experimenting so give it a go and let me know your thoughts below!