Pain Perdu to the Rescue

It’s a dessert … it’s breakfast … it’s pain perdu. It’s one of the sexiest things you can make from bread. And if you didn’t know its potential, you might totally pass it by.

Literally translated as “lost bread,” it's often made from day-old slices thought to be of little use to society in their current state. But pain perdu is no lost moment. And it knows exactly what it’s doing: namely seducing with thick, buttery slices. But where pain perdu truly gets its oomph is with the addition of Cointreau. It's an important breath of boozy citrus, and definitely worth adding in.

It's also an easy way to feel quite pleased with yourself first thing in the morning. After all, it’s pretty much French toast, just a bit boozed and buttered up. Though, you still have to be careful. Yes, it's true I made this for breakfast ... on a Tuesday. But the self-satisfaction lasted precisely until I ran my fingers through my hair and realized I had honey in it.

This is an important lesson, folks. While pain perdu may be easy to make, one has to remember his or her personal Kryptonite. (Which, for me tends to involve sticky sweeteners ... and making brioche.)

Luckily, it’s hard to mess up such a simple item. Egg and butter typically taste pretty good. Even with honey in your hair.

Pain Perdu
2 eggs
~1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
2-3 tbsp Cointreau
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp honey
Pinch of salt
4-5 slices brioche bread
Butter for pan
Seasonal fresh fruit plus powdered sugar to garnish

Combine eggs, milk, Cointreau, vanilla extract, honey, and salt. Dip bread in mixture and let soak for a few minutes. Add bread to preheated pan that has been coated with butter and cook until golden (about 3 minutes/side). Garnish as desired.

Makes 4-5 slices of pain perdu

-The Cointreau and brioche really adds something special, so try not to leave it out.


  1. Mmm. Pain perdu sounds far more decadent than French toast, doesn't it?

    Though if you'll forgive me a French language geek moment, "pain perdu" doesn't quite translate as "lost bread." The bread itself isn't lost - it's the chance to consume it as-is that's escaped. It's a similar usage to "perdu" as in Proust's "A la Recherche de Temps Perdu."

  2. Interesting French 'upgrade' of the humble bread pudding.

  3. Adele, I LOVE that you geeked out on me (and mentioned Proust no less). And I am absolutely contacting you before my next brioche attempt. ;)

  4. Pain perdu sounds so much better than "drunk French toast"!

  5. My husband makes French toast every weekend with leftover challah. I wonder if he would be breaking the pain perdu code by using challah instead of brioche, but still adding the Cointreau...

  6. Oh, I'm sure you could totally swap the brioche for the challah. "Pain perdu code" ... I love it! I guess you could say I "live by it." ;)

  7. I just saw an amazing looking recipe for a vanilla bean brioche and now I'll be wracking my brain as to where so I can make it with this wonderful pain perdu. Thanks for sharing the recipe and your gorgeous photography.

  8. Whatever we call it, it looks tempting and delicious! Such a beautiful photo!

  9. This is some amped up French toast! I love Cointreau and would definitely want some in my breakfast ;)

  10. stale bread, butter, and booze--things most likely in nearly every household. i've never had honey in my hair, but i've battled maple syrup multiple times. :)

  11. Love it- and particularly the photo. This is the ultimate comfort food. I think the best version I've tasted is one that combined a croque monsieur with it. They used the eggy bread to layer combinations of ham with a cheesey bechamel. Then there was a honey mustard drizzle over the top. Outrageous stuff.

  12. I love pain perdu! Now I am definitely craving it! And that is so interesting how the original saying was "let them eat brioche." I didn't know that!

  13. This looks unique; 'lost bread' huh? What an interesting way to revamp a normal piece of bread :)