A family French toast recipe everyone should know, from a chef

I’m a professional chef, but my favorite recipe for French toast is the one my mom made when I was a kid.

She used to whip some on busy mornings for a quick breakfast, and sometimes wrap an extra slice in a napkin for me to eat while walking to the bus.

Here is the recipe.

One-day-old sourdough bread is the main ingredient

French bread ingredients on the kitchen counter

Crispy bread absorbs the egg mixture better.

Alyssa Fitzgerald

When you hear French toast, you might imagine plain challah or even fried pieces of dinner-style white bread covered in butter and syrup.

As a child, my mother was taken to the Lower East Side of Manhattan by my grandfather, who craved the creamy bread his Ukrainian grandmother would buy.

For this reason, French toast has always meant a good sourdough bread to me. The tang perfectly balances sweet maple syrup and a piece of salty butter.

French toast is also called a pain perdeaux or the lost bread. The word “missing” refers to the fact that one-day (or two-, three- or four-day-old) bread is best.

Stale bread is dry, and when dipped in the egg mixture absorbs flavors that marry rich, chewy treats.

No less important than the quality of the egg mixture for baking

Soak the bread in the egg mixture to toast the French bread

You want to give the bread time to absorb the eggs.

Alyssa Fitzgerald

When working out the pain, a fresh egg is important, as is a pinch of salt.

Salt helps break down the yolk and white. When gently whisked in with a little milk (or milk substitute), it combines into a foamy mixture that absorbs into dry bread like a dream.

A piece of French toast in a frying pan

It doesn’t take long to cook.

Alyssa Fitzgerald

Add a touch of cinnamon and you’ve got a truly memorable breakfast ingredient that won’t fall apart in the pan or under the weight of maple syrup.

Although leftovers are good (a Monte Cristo sandwich anyone?), one serving can be made from one egg and two slices of toast.

Two pieces of french toast on a plate with syrup

I serve French bread with syrup and butter.

Alyssa Fitzgerald


  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk or milk substitute
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 thick slices (at least) of one-day-old bread
  • salted butter
  • Maple syrup


  1. For egg mixture, grab a flat plate (such as a pie pan) and crack the egg. Add a pinch of salt and milk, and whisk with a fork until blended and gently frothy.
  2. Add the bread to the egg mixture and leave for at least five to 10 minutes on each side until the mixture is absorbed.
  3. Heat the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat until it begins to turn brown. Combine the egg soaked bread and leave for about three minutes, until brown on one side. Flip it to the other side and cook for another three to five minutes.
  4. Serve warm with real maple syrup and more butter.

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