There are many different recipes for French toast; I know of almost a hundred and I'm sure there are more. However, the basic recipe is:
Stale bread, cut in thick slices
Soaked in a mixture of egg and milk
Add sugar and or spices (depending on recipe)
Fry on both sides until golden brown
Most recipes call for sugar and/or spices. Maple syrup is also a common addition (particularly in Canada and the USA). Following are a couple of recipes which are particularly popular and relatively simple.
Easy French Toast Recipe (Cinnamon & Canilla) - A quick and easy recipe
French Toast Recipe (sweet) - A sweet version (with powdered sugar)
French Toast Recipe (sugar+salt) - Sweet, but balanced by touch of salt
French Toast Recipe (Spicy) - Slightly exotic with: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla
Baked French Toast Recipe - A different taste, very rich and delicious (but a bit naughty)
Baked French Toast (Apple + Raisin) - So rich and tasty it is almost sinful. The apple, cinnamon and raisins work magic together with the rich mixture of cream, sugar and butter.
French Toast - Origin and Name:
French toast is popular (mainly as a breakfast meal) in North America, parts of Europe and China. The origin of French toast is uncertain, as is its name. Recipes dating back to the sixteenth century have been found, and it appears to have been widespread throughout Europe. Each country appears to have had its own name for it.
In France, it was called "pain perdu" (lost bread), as it was a way of using bread that had gone stale and would otherwise perhaps be thrown away (in other words, lost bread).
In England, it has been called "Poor Knight's Pudding" or "Poor Knight's of Windsor". Again, this may be a reference to the use of stale bread, so it is associated with the need of poor people to not throw away food. The reference to Knight is less certain, but as eggs and milk would have perhaps been beyond the normal means of a poor peasant, the meal is perhaps more applicable to a Poor Knight (who, although relatively poor, would be more able than the average peasant to afford the eggs and milk).
A similar pattern is to be found in Finland, where the basic recipe was called "köyhät ritarit" (poor knight's) but if sugar and jam were added (relatively expensive ingredients at the time) it was called "rikkaat ritarit" (rich knight's).
In America there were a number of names for the recipe, but it was perhaps most commonly known as "German Toast" prior to World War I. However, anti-German sentiment at that time resulted in it being renamed to "French Toast". Since 2003 the anti-French sentiment in parts of the USA resulting from opposing positions over the Iraq war has resulted in it being renamed to "Freedom Toast" in the White House, US Congress and some restaurants. At about the same time these institutions also renamed "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries".
French Toast - Nutrition:
French toast is a sound meal, provided one doesn't use too much sugar. The bread provides carbohydrates, the egg protein, the milk calcium and other nutrients. It is also good for economic fitness as eggs are relatively cheap and one can use stale bread that would otherwise be thrown away. The trick is to use a French toast recipe that does not call for a lot of sugar (or, to only use such recipes occasionally as a special treat). We provide both types of recipes here.