A popular breakfast in New Orleans, pain perdu literally means lost or wasted bread. Traditionally it's made with thick slices from a crusty French loaf that's gone stale, which tells you where the name originated. If not used this way, the bread would be wasted, lost to crumbs or bird feed.
Panettone Pain Perdu
Fruit Cake French Toast
Note: This is a versatile recipe so feel free to substitute orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) for the amaretto. A bit of nutmeg and cinnamon to taste are also optional additions, along with some orange zest. I prefer mine with just the amaretto and vanilla, but to each her own! I sometimes turn this into a lovely dessert by scooping ice cream over a warm piece, and sprinkling chopped, toasted almonds over the top with a drizzle of amaretto and a puff of whipped cream. Enjoy!
Avoid disaster: If you're a French toast expert, you don't need these tips, but if you haven't made it in some time, note that fruit cake, panettone, and any soft bread will be quite fragile and tear on you easily. To avoid that, note my underlined comments in the recipe, and you should end up with a very pretty plate of (non-torn) pain perdu!
Step 1—Prep bread: If using fruit cake, slice 4 one-inch pieces. If using panettone bread, slice a 1-inch thick round layer (see my photo). The thickness is important to avoid tearing.
Allow the cake or bread to sit out and become dry for a few hours or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. Slice the thick round into 4 quarters and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and begin to time the cooking. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown (do not overcook). If cooking more batches, be sure to wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and add fresh oil and butter for each new batch.
Use a spatula to carefully transfer the fried quarters to a parchment lined baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes. After that time, either serve the pain perdu or turn off the oven to "hold" the pieces for 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 4—Serve : Eat the pain perdu warm with a traditional New Orleans’ dusting of powdered sugar and/or serve with butter and pure maple or cane syrup and/or fruit toppings (strawberries, blueberries, etc). Add a scoop of ice cream and/or whipped cream, maybe some chopped nuts, and you have an incredible dessert. As for me and my husband, Marc, this is what we'll be eating Christmas morning...
Merry Christmas, everyone,
from Cleo and all of us at
Mystery Lovers' Kitchen!