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One French word: perdu, a French recipe: pain perdu

Perdu, masculine adjective (perdu (m.), perdue (f.), perdus (, perdues ( = lost (pronounced pair-du – with a French u)

Past participle of the verb perdre = to lose (je perds, tu perds, il/elle perd, nous perdons, vous perdez, ils/elles perdent)

Perdre la tête = to lose one’s mind; A la Recherche du Temps perdu (Marcel Proust) = In Search of Lost Time; tout n’est pas perdu = all is not lost;  à corps perdu = with all one’s energy.

Pain perdu aux fruits

My recipe for today is for pain perdu (literally : lost bread) = French toast. Lost bread, stale bread.  Making something wonderful out of scraps, isn’t that the best sort of cooking? Well this is just that, and it’s not for nothing that it’s called “French toast”, because of course it comes from France.

It is much, much better to use stale brioche than stale bread. Succulent. But it is quite rare to have stale brioche. Fresh brioche seems to disappear rather quickly. You can actually use fresh brioche or bread, but that rather defeats the object of using something one would otherwise throw away.

For 2 portions, you will need:

  • 2 thick slices of stale brioche (or bread) (or 4 maybe)
  • 1 whole egg
  • a little milk
  • 1tbs sugar
  • butter for frying
  • 1tbs alcohol (brandy, apple liqueur, rum), optional
  • extra sugar for sprinkling
  • 8 ripe strawberries
  • 1 slice ripe pineapple
  • a little whipped cream to garnish


  1. In a shallow dish big enough to place the slices whole and flat, beat the whole egg with a small glass of milk, then add the sugar and alcohol if you are using it, mix well.
  2. Place the slices into the mixture gently, leave to pump up the egg mixture for 5 or 10 minutes or more, then turn delicately without breaking them and soak the other side. The longer they soak, within reason, up to an hour, the better they will be.
  3. Prepare the fruit: wash and hull the strawberries and cut in half lengthways, peel and core the pineapple and cut into bite-sized chunks.
  4. Place quite a bit of butter (a couple of tbs) into a non-stick frying pan and heat to melt. With a fish slice or some other flat instrument large enough to take the slice without it breaking, pick up the slices and place them in the pan. Turn the heat down so that they cook gently without the butter burning.
  5. After a couple of minutes turn them over using the fish slice and a fork. They are very fragile. The slices should be browned and a little caramelized on the first side. Fry gently for another minute or two. They should swell a little. Transfer to serving plates.
  6. Sprinkle with a little sugar and garnish the pain perdu with the fruit and a whirl of whipped cream.  Serve nice and hot.

Pain perdu

You may serve this as a dessert. But desserts that need last minute treatment are tricky, so think of that before deciding to do it. Better I think to serve it as a luxury breakfast or brunch on a Sunday, when everyone has lots of time and you don’t have to hurry to make it.


About OneFrenchWord

I was a professional linguist and have been a life-long foodie. I am now lucky enough to be retired and free to roam the beaches around my home at the tip of the Finistère (Brittany, France). Writing is occupying a larger place in my life, with this blog and a children's book in preparation. I shall feel much happier calling myself a writer when I have published a book. And so posts on OneFrenchWord will be published first as an e-book, my ambition being to see a glossy volume on French language and cuisine in print some day. So keep reading, and snap up the book when it appears!

7 responses »

  1. OH, boy, now I want to make brioche, and will make extra, just so I can make this French toast. French toast is my absolute favorite breakfast and it can be so utterly different from recipe to recipe and from restaurant to restaurant.

  2. ooooh..I’ve always wanted to make French toast..trying next week..on my list! :P
    Thank you!

  3. Is this what we call “Poor Knights” here? Except that we serve them with sugar and cinnamon.
    It gives such a wonderful taste of happy childhood-days.

  4. Ahh.. this reminds me of my childhood, I feel so nostalgic. Thanks for the recipe, I will definitely make this for my Saturday breakfast. I think brioche makes it lighter and sweeter. Great idea.

  5. Pingback: One French word: pêche, a French recipe: Pêches pochées | One French Word

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