French toast is a dish that originated when Europeans during Medieval times dipped day-old bread in egg and fried it in butter or oil. The French call it "pain perdu," or lost bread, in reference to the old bread that would otherwise be discarded if not for the revitalizing French toast recipe. The preparation method for French toast varies worldwide, and the type of frying fat is often either butter or a variety of vegetable oils.
Olive Oil Types and Smoke Points
Choosing an oil for frying French toast depends on a few factors, including flavor, frying quality and smoke point. Each variety of olive oil has different specifications. Extra virgin olive oil is an oil that has a distinct flavor of olives and a medium smoke point. Frying French toast in regular olive oil is preferable because the ingredients are comprised of refined olive oil and virgin olive oil, and the resulting flavor is neutral, not olive-flavored, and it will not clash with the dish's sweetness. It also has a higher smoke point, which is important for avoiding burning and smoking while frying foods.
French toast is often sweetly flavored. Toppings include maple syrup, fruit, cinnamon, powdered sugar, orange liqueur and toasted pecans. A neutral oil allows the topping flavors to assert themselves without interference, but frying French toast in butter also works well because it adds a nutty flavor that complements the sweetness of the dish.
In the preparation of French toast, preheat a 12-inch skillet on medium-low heat or a griddle to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Pour the oil, and heat thoroughly. Add the French toast, and cook until golden brown. The cook time is approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side. In order to benefit from the high smoke point of oil and the nutty flavor of butter, a half tablespoon of each can be used together in the pan. If you choose this option, preheat the oil first to avoid over-browning the butter.
Warm Before Serving
While the French toast is frying, put a baking sheet in the oven set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As each slice is cooked, add it to the baking sheet. When all slices are completed, they will be warm and ready to serve. To remove excess oil, place the French toast slices on paper towels prior to serving.
- "Cook's Illustrated"; French Toast; Jan. 1, 2009
- Cooking for Engineers; Smoke Points for Various Fats; Michael Chu; June 10, 2004
- "Food Lover's Companion"; French Toast; Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst; 2007