Jerry's Pain Perdu
(Lost Bread, i.e. Cajun French Toast)

I found this recipe in "The New Orleans Cookbook" by Rima and Richard Collin. 

The French bread has to be a few days old and kind of dry – not rock hard – to absorb the liquid well.  You want to let it soak through, so that the outside is a crispy crust while the inside is like custard.  Don’t cut the pieces too thick, 1” to 1 ½” is about right.  You want the middle to cook through.

To get a crisp finish, you have to fry them in some depth of oil – not on a dry skillet.  Sorry, calories are the cost of truly delicious food!  And you want to use a good cast iron skillet.

McCormick Vanilla seems the best to me.  The “fancy” Bourbon vanillas just don’t taste right.

You want a dark crust, and a little black is OK.  This is not burning; this is caramelized sugar that gives them the great taste!  Forget about cutting down the sugar, too.


6-8 pieces of stale French bread, cut 1 ½” thick


cooking oil about ½” deep in the skillet

2 tbsp butter


2 eggs

¼ cup (4 tbsp) sugar

1 cup milk

Splash of vanilla extract



Beat eggs in a large pan until completely combined, and slightly mixed (no more whites visible).

Add sugar and beat until blended in.

Beat in milk until combined.

Add a splash of vanilla and mix till smooth.

Soak the French bread a few pieces at a time.  Turn them several times until they are well soaked with the liquid.

In a good cast iron skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat until the bubbling subsides.

Fry the pain perdu until dark, OK if blackened.  Turn once, and remove to drain on paper towels.  Watch the heat carefully, keep them dark, but not burning, and never let the oil get too cool.

Serve while hot, offering powdered sugar and cinnamon, or cane syrup, but they should be sweet enough as-is.