Pain Perdu means "lost bread." In New Orleans it refers to the bread that would be thrown away, or lost. New Orleans French bread has a light crispy crust and a soft airy interior, making it perfect for pain perdu. But baguettes, brioche, challah and Italian bread work, too--you just have to make sure the bread is very dry (pre-toasting it in the oven if necessary) so it absorbs as much of the custard as possible. It's traditionally served with a simple sprinkling of confectioner's sugar, but this time I made it with a sauce of bananas browned in butter with brown sugar and pecans--a play on Bananas Foster, a dessert made popular by Brennan's in New Orleans. - drbabs —drbabs
Test Kitchen Notes
My family thoroughly enjoyed this recipe. I ended up quadrupling the recipe to make an ample amount for all the hungry eaters. The only ingredients that I didn't quadruple were the vanilla and the salt. I added a bit more, but not 4X. The directions were fairly straightforward and I appreciated being able to make the batter ahead. The Pain Perdu puffed up as promised in the oven and resulted in a nice crunchy exterior with soft/smooshy interior. I omitted the alcohol but might try it again adding it in. The banana/pecan sauce is swoon worthy! The nutmeg is a perfect flavor enhancer and makes all the other tastes/textures come together. This is a keeper and will be added to my easy/entertaining file! - sticksnscones —The Editors
slices stale French (or other--see above) bread
whole milk (or half-and-half or cream)
tiny pinch of salt
banana, sliced into rounds
water or dark rum--or a mixture of both
Whisk together milk, egg yolk, vanilla extract, salt and honey until completely blended.
Let bread soak in custard, turning it and pressing down on it as necessary, so that as much of the custard as possible is absorbed by the bread.
Preheat oven to 300. Heat butter in small skillet until sizzling. Brown the bread well on both sides. (Do not wash the skillet.) Place bread in a baking dish (or the dish in which you will serve the pain perdu if it's oven proof) and place into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes--until bread is cooked through and slightly puffy.
Add a tablespoon of butter to the lovely browned butter that is left in the skillet after browning the bread. Briefly saute (over low-medium heat) the banana slices so that they are coated with browned butter. Sprinkle over the brown sugar, salt and pour in the water or rum. Raise heat slightly, and stir, being careful not to mush up the bananas, until the sauce reduces and becomes syrupy.
Remove bread from oven, Spoon bananas over bread, and pour over remaining sauce. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and shower with freshly grated nutmeg.