Pardon My French… Toast!

One of those names that varied from country to country, it was called Spanish Toast in Germany, German Toast in Italy, Nun’s Toast in Spain, Amarilla in South America, and Poor Knights of Windsor in England, with translations of the latter into Swedish, Danish, and some more European languages. The reason for it, presumably, is that in Medieval England, knights, contrary to common folk, were supposed to be served dessert after dinner. Not all of them possessed the shining armor, though, and some knights were as poor as the proverbial mouse. Dunking bread into milk, enriching it with eggs, and frying it was their innovative way of solving the problem. They slathered it with jam, and – voila! – dessert was served.

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You are witnessing history in the making: King Arthur is sick and tired of pizza, and Sir Lancelot is about to give instructions to the cook to make the toast!

But what about France? After all, “French toast is a dish we have borrowed from the French,” insists Craig Claiborne in The New York Times Food Encyclopedia (1985). That may be so, but don’t expect to find French Toast on a menu in France. There it is called pain perdu – lost bread, which is a French euphemism for stale bread.  Apparently, frugal medieval cooks went out of their way trying to save every crumb and, with fabled French culinary savvy, created this delicious breakfast treat. Originally, though, they called it Pain a la Romaine – the Roman Bread.  And now we are getting closer to the true story.

tiberius-9507276-1-402Roman emperor Tiberius started out on the cusp of the millennium as one of the greatest generals Rome has ever seen. No wonder his father-in-law, who was also his step father and adoptive father (it’s pretty confusing, I know, but ancient Romans adoption laws were designed to serve political purposes, rather than children’s welfare), made sure Tiberius succeeded him  on the throne. Papa Augustus wanted, and Tiberius dutifully obliged, but the luxury and decadence of imperial Rome circa 1st century C.E. was not to his liking. While trying to do his best among plots and intrigues, he gradually became “the gloomiest of men, ” according to historian Pliny the Elder.

His son Drusus, though, was gallivanting around Rome with an infamous “lover of luxury,” whose name eventually became synonymous with “gourmand,” Marcus Gavius Apicius. Flashing massive rings with huge precious stones, drunken Drusus ate up Marcus’ undisputed culinary judgments regarding, for instance, cabbage tops which were not fitting to be eaten by patricians since they were “common food.” Apicius was “born to enjoy every extravagant luxury that could be contrived” (Pliny the Elder). According to the philosopher Seneca, he spent 100 million sestertii to build his kitchen, then he spent all the gifts he had received from the Imperial court (courtesy of his buddy Drusus) on a spectacular housewarming party. Waking up the morning after, Apicius toted up his bills and realized he had only 10 million sestertii left to his name. Poor guy! Having found himself on the brink of poverty (10 millions – pocket change!), he poisoned himself.

Image result for peter o'toole tiberius images

Drusus also died of poisoning which was quite a common malady in those times, although it was unclear whether he was poisoned by his loving wife Livilla or accidentally overdosed on bitter almonds he used to gobble up as a remedy for drunkenness. Almonds or cyanide, emperor Tiberius’ only son was dead, and the emperor went into total depression, left Rome, secluded himself , and adopted his grand-nephew Caligula as his grandson and heir. Peter o’Toole portrayed the last days of the aging emperor, mad with grief (and possibly syphilis as well) in the film Caligula. You might have met Malcolm McDowell as Caligula in one of my earlier posts (please see here).

Image result for Marcus Gavius Apicius images

It is pretty obvious that this kind of decadence and depravity (Caligula is not a film for family entertainment!), signaled the beginning of the end, “decline and fall of Roman Empire,” aptly named so by Gibbon. Apicius, claimed Seneca, “corrupted the age with his example,” thus adding a weighty stone to a grave of the once glorious empire. Before poisoning himself, though, he supposedly managed to author a cook book filled with recipes some of which are still used today. To be honest, it is unclear that he actually wrote it, but it has been circulating under his name for two thousand years, and under the title “Another Sweet Dish” we find the following:

Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] Fry in oil, cover with honey and serve.” (The Food Timeline)

CC Fr Tst 1.jpg

Let’s do what the famed gourmand said, with a few modifications: take a few slices of my homemade spelt bread (if you are allergic to gluten or have a celiac disorder, you can use gluten free bread), coconut milk and coconut creamer (hazelnut flavored creamer adds a nice nutty nuance), agave for sweetness, and a dash of vanilla extract for flavor. Because it’s my kitchen, and not the Apicius’ 100 million sestertii one, I make my own rules, and Rule #1 states: It’s not a dessert if it’s not chocolate. Therefore, I add cocoa powder.

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Instead of eggs, I whip aquafaba into foam, gradually add the rest of the stuff, and whip it together, then I soak bread slices in this foamy liquid.

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Meanwhile, I melt coconut oil on a preheated frying pan and fry the slices for about 2 – 3 minutes of each side.

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Since my Rule #2 is: The more chocolate, the better, I serve these choco-coco slices with chocolate syrup, garnished by toasted coconut flakes and fresh berries. Ah, to taste the decadence of Rome right before it fell!

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 slices of spelt, multigrain, or gluten free bread
  • 1 cup aquafaba (liquid left after cooking chickpeas)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup coconut creamer
  • 1/4 cup agave (adjust sweetness to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • A pinch of salt
  • Chocolate syrup to taste
  • Toasted coconut flakes and fresh berries to garnish

PROCEDURE

  • Whip aquafaba with a pinch of salt to foam, add the rest of ingredients, whisk together. soak bread slices.
  • Preheat shallow frying pan, melt coconut oil. Fry each slice on medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Serve hot with chocolate syrup, garnish with toasted coconut flakes and fresh berries.

Enjoy!

 

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88 Comments Add yours

  1. elliebleu says:

    I’ve never made French toast with coconut oil. What a wonderful idea. Great story behind a breakfast classic 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear, I am glad you like it!

      Like

  2. I didn’t know that this would work with just aquafaba. Thanks for the recipe Dolly.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Myra, between us, girls, I didn’t know myself, but my doctor said I shouldn’t even have eggs in the house, so I had to try.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh I’m sorry to hear you have food restrictions. It’s a good thing though that you’re so creative 😃

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, dear Myra! I don’t see them as restrictions; I see them as challenges, and it’s always fun to rise up to challenges.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Blackhorn33 says:

    This sounds great, but why the egg substitute(aquafaba)?
    French Toast is good, and be assured I will try these, but I am already planning my next pancakes, and waffles(our favorites).
    The Chocoberry Breakfast Loaf is on the list also.
    I hope all is well your way, and please keep up the great cooking.
    I just did a 3 part on ‘Talking To Your Child”, a good resource from another government site, which I enjoyed passing along, although in the end it added to my depression…. parents have to care about their Children before meaningful communication is possible. Have you written anything on this subject?
    Sincerely,
    Robert

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Dear Robert, the egg substitute is per my doctor’s orders (when you reach a certain age, cholesterol plays tricks on you). Feel free to use real eggs, of course!
      I am so glad you like my recipes!
      I’ll go over and read your part 3, and no, I haven’t written anything on the subject because I agree with you: parents have to care in order to establish communication, but you can’t force people to care if there is no feeling in their hearts! However, if they do care but don’t know how to start, they show signs of willingness, at least. Once in a while I had parents who came to my monthly parenting classes with a notebook and took careful notes, then tried to implement the strategies. The majority, though, only showed up because attendance was mandatory.
      Your depression is shared, believe me!

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Blackhorn33 says:

        Dolly, I want you to know that you are a very large Blessing, and I appreciate you, I don’t mind telling you that since the first day I began work on this, I have been humbled so many, many times due to the unexpected Blessings.
        What you should know is that since that first day I have only been a Follower, but my Leader is THE MASTER OF THE WIND.
        Robert

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Robert, I am a very small blessing, only 5’1″, but yes, we are all only try do our parts, but everything is in His hand.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. gastrogranny says:

    It was interesting for me reading about ancient “bread”and the customs in connection with it… Thanks Dolly for this useful description. Today I will publish a bread recipe too…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for your kind comment! Looking forward to your recipe!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great recipe-loved the history too 🙂 Thank you very much 🙂 x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words – I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. interesting historical background. Love the idea of adding cocoa to the mix. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Ronit! You understand what I am doing, right? Have to get rid of all the bread in the freezer before Pesach.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Sinful! The thought of spelt bread though takes it down a notch down on the sin factor. In India there is a version of French Toast too. Since Indians like all things spicy, chopped green chillies, onions, ground spices which include red chilli powder are whisked into the egg for the toasts to be dipped in. Voila you have Indian-style French Toast. It is actually quite lovely too with hot and sweet chilli sauce.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Ohhh yum! Do you want to do a guest post for me on this recipe? That would be fantastic! The reason I bake almost everything with spelt flour is my husband’s ADHD condition. Gluten affects him very strongly, but gluten in spelt doesn’t. The reason for aquafaba is trying to avoid raising cholesterol level, both for me and my husband. am so glad you like my recipe, dear!
      I

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Absolutely! I would love to do that. When would you like the guest post by? 🙂 I would love to bake spelt bread. I have been eyeing spelt flour at the stores for some time now. Is it tasty? I usually like to bake multi-grain bread.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Spelt bread is delicious, and there are two kinds of spelt flour, regular and white. https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/round-challah-for-a-sweet-year/
        This one is made with white spelt flour, but we like a more coarse feel for everyday, so I use regular one for that.
        I am so thankful that you agreed to do the guest post! Whenever you want, dear! Post it on your site and send me the link, that’s all.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I shall try out your recipe after I pick me up a bag of spelt flour then. That challah looks delicious. I like a coarse texture in my bread too 🙂 Okay Thank You, I shall do that and send it to you in a few days xx

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Thank you sweetheart – have a lovely day!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. You too Dolly 🙂 xx

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – I am glad you like it!

      Like

  8. spearfruit says:

    As always Dolly, your posts are full of history and yummy food. Thanks, have a Happy Tuesday. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, and you too, dear!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. leggypeggy says:

    Thank you so much. I have homemade bread and aquafaba on hand so I hope to try this tomorrow morning.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh great! I am so glad you like it; please let me know how it comes out.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. leggypeggy says:

        Turned out great and so good to have a way to use aquafaba.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I am so glad to hear that, and thank you so much for letting me know – you made my day!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Joëlle says:

    I keep forgetting that coconut milk is a creamier option than rice milk in dessert. Thank you for reminding me, Dolly. I never throw away aquafaba any more: if I don’t have an immediate use for it, in the freezer it goes, inside one of those mini snack bags you can zip. They don’t sell them in France so I stocked up on during my last stay in the U.S.! You see, we may have invented many recipes, but we are scant on freezer bag sizes! This is what trade is all about: a French “pain perdu” recipe in exchange for “snack bags” 😉
    Have a nice week, Dolly, and thank you for telling us the story behind French toast 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Joelle, your endorsement of my recipes means so much to me!
      You have a nice week as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Cheila says:

    It looks perfect and delicious!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you dear Cheila, I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. A_Boleyn says:

    Fun combination of a history lesson of a simple dish and a tasty recipe.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment; I am glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. lorigreer says:

    A great recipe and a history lesson…fantastic!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Lori, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. lorigreer says:

        Such a clever and entertaining post!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Christy B says:

    I agree with your rule to have more chocolate 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Balvinder says:

    Love these french toast with aquafaba. Do you have a post on aquafaba?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Not specifically, just using it here and there. Thank you for your kind words, dear Bal!

      Like

  16. Cocoa powder, genius! I love that idea to add to the mix for French toast!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much – I am so glad you like it!

      Like

  17. Great story again! Self made bread is noble. And chocolate… I agree: the more, the better! 😊 Many greetings!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much dear, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. kelleysdiy says:

    This is my breakfast favorite! Yummy, I’m going to do this this weekend, thank you for sharing the recipe with me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so glad you like it! Just remember, he more chocolate, the better! Enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Very interesting story and fun to learn new, Dolly 🙂
    I haven’t made this kind of food for many years, but now I think to try again.
    Maybe I will use eggs, because my doctor told me to eat lots of them.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Dear Irene, of course you can use eggs. I use substitutes because I am trying to cut down on cholesterol. Thank you for your kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do like to use the other too, but not this time and with a doctor telling me, that I need eggs, then I listen 😀

        Liked by 3 people

      2. You’re right! When my doctor tells me I shouldn’t use eggs, I also listen 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Malini says:

    Great explanation. Its interesting to get to know about history.. It looks so delicious..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Malini!I am glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Now how did you know I love French toast?! And a history lesson, to top it off! Like you, I am a history buff. But I refuse to believe Caligula could have come up w/ such a delicious dish. :))) When we were kids, we actually did sometimes get bread dipped in milk for supper. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. But Caligula didn’t; Apicius did (maybe)! I am glad you enjoyed my little imaginary visit to ancient Rome and the recipe – than you so much for your kind comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Ali Grimshaw says:

    I really appreciate your adaptations of recipes. I have been egg, dairy, and wheat free for years. It is difficult during the transition to figure out what to eat. You are a wonderful resource for others who are looking for ways to eat delicious foods in a slightly different way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ali, I am glad to be of help!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ali Grimshaw says:

        You entertain and explain. I like that about your blog.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you – I am glad you like it!

        Liked by 1 person

  23. munchkinontheroad says:

    Reblogged this on On the Road Cooking and commented:
    I loved this article; and it comes with the humorous history and a great recipe for what this American calls “French Toast”…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for reblogging and for your kind comment!

      Like

  24. this looks very tasty!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much – I am glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. That is a good dose of history served with yummy chocolaty breakfast, Dolly! Thank you, my children are sure to enjoy it (not more than me thought ;))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Robin says:

    I’m learning so much by reading your blog! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My pleasure, dear! I am so glad you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I never thought French toast had such a rich history and could be so creative! Nice to know about an alternative to eggs. I am highly allergic to them. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am not allergic, but my doctor says that my cholesterol is, so eggs took milk with them and walked away.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have my husband on the Mediterranean diet for that reason. But, he can have up to 4 eggs/week. My mother was once part of a study on diet and cholesterol. It was completely dragonian, but it worked! It was just too difficult to maintain unfortunately.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Both my husband and I are not supposed to have any eggs, but sometimes I cheat and use a couple in baking. My reasoning is that, spread in a vast amount of other ingredients, cholesterol will not dare to cause any harm.
        Are the girls enjoying Yom Tov?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh yes! Lots of action 💃🕺

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Happy to hear that!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Very nice, with friends visiting from out of town.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. That is so nice. The hardest part for me is not being near family or our oldest friends.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I know exactly how that feels, and I am very excited because right after Yom Tov we are going first to Boston to spend a few days with my son and MY GRANDDAUGHTER and then to New York for my cousin’s Chassene, and all my cousins with their families are coming from Israel!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Now that is nachas! Mazel Tov!👶🏻💍🎉🍼

        Liked by 1 person

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