Pain Perdu: Paradise Found

The French expression for French toast is «pain perdu» - or lost bread. It is a way to reclaim, or use, bread that is no longer fit for eating at the table.

I am reminded of Proust's well-known book, «À la recherche de pain perdu» ... Really? It was «du temps perdu?» Huh... who knew?

Like many traditional recipes, just about everyone has their version: eggy bread, Bombay toast, German toast, Gypsy toast, poor knights of Windsor, or Spanish toast, to name a few. It seems that wherever there is bread, there is an egg-dipped version.

The Italians generally make this a savory preparation, stuffing the bread with mozzarella and, sometimes, anchovies before dropping it in the fryer. It is called «mozzarella en carrozza» (mozzarella in a carriage) and it is delicious.

However, I make a different Italian version (who knows - maybe Italians do, as well?) using panettone.

Have you ever been given a panettone during the holiday season and wondered what to do with it? Here is one idea, and you needn't wait for it to be "lost" or stale. In fact, using it fresh makes the centers rather custard-like.

Serve it with butter and syrup, simply with butter, or a dusting of confectioner's sugar. It is sure to brighten any winter morning.

~ David

Panettone Perdu

2 eggs
2-3 tablespoons cream or milk
a couple drops Fiori di Sicilia * - or vanilla extract
2 one-inch slices panettone (6-inch diameter)

When making panettone perdu, or any kind of French toast, I use my nonstick electric skillet. No butter or oil is needed and it allows you to keep the heat even. If you don't have an electric skillet, proceed with your favorite French toast pan.

Heat the electric skillet to 350°F (180°C).

Break both eggs into a pie plate, and then add the cream and extract. Beat well with a fork.

When skillet is ready, dip each piece of panettone into the egg mixture, then turn to coat the other side. Place them in the electric skillet, and pour any remaining egg mixture on the tops and let it soak in as the first side cooks.

When the underside is golden brown, flip the panettone slices and cook the second side till golden brown.

Serve with or without syrup/butter.

This recipe is for 2, but it can be doubled or tripled.

* Fiori di Sicilia is a wonderful extract, blending the essences of citrus blossoms and vanilla.

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