As a chef, no matter how wonderful your menu reads, how great the food is or how glowing the press might be, you always get suggestions from your customers for something they’d like to see on the menu or a dish you’ve just GOT to try.
Such is the story behind my recipe for Pain Perdu.
While it might be a bit of a pain to make (not really), the Pain part of this dish’s name comes from the French word for bread. The Perdu part means lost, which is all to say that Pain Perdu was originally created to use stale French bread that would otherwise be lost if it wasn’t reclaimed for use in a recipe of some kind.
You can find hundreds of unique recipes for Pain Perdu, some as simple as what we know as French Toast and others that are more complex.
The reason I love this recipe so much is threefold.
It can be served as both a breakfast entrée and a dessert. (It can even be flambéed in Grand Marnier!)
It can be prepped in the evening and cooked the next morning, leaving you with only one chore—making coffee.
It serves 6 to 8 portions, all at one time.
So this holiday season, when you’ve got a crowd or if you’d like to start a NEW holiday food tradition, try my recipe for Pain Perdu.
You might find you’d be lost without it.
Pain Perdu Casserole: Makes 1 – 9” x 13” casserole and feeds 6 to 8 persons
Caramel Pecan Smear
1 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
½ Cup Salted Butter
¼ Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Cup Pecan Pieces
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes and cool to room temperature.
Spray a 9” x 13” casserole dish with non-stick vegetable spray. Pour the caramel pecan smear into the dish and spread evenly.
Pain Perdu Filling
12 slices French Bread, Sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
4 Extra-Large Eggs, Beaten
4 Cups Half & Half
¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
¼ Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp Pure Vanilla
½ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
As Needed Nonstick Vegetable Spray
Layer bread slices evenly over the top of the caramel pecan smear within the 9” x 13” casserole dish, making sure the finished layering/shingling is of even height edge to edge.
Whisk together the eggs, half & half, sugars, vanilla, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in large bowl until blended and then pour mixture over bread slices evenly.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Remove plastic wrap from casserole and bake approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the Pain Perdu is firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove casserole from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes.
Loosen the casserole from the sides with a sharp knife, and then carefully turn the entire casserole over onto a serving platter of appropriate size.
Cut portions as desired and top with the Orange Cream Cheese Butter.
Orange Cream Cheese Butter
Makes enough to serve a 9” x 13” Pain Perdu Casserole
2 Sticks Salted Butter, Softened
2 TBSP Powdered Sugar
4 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 TBSP Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice
1 TBSP Orange Zest
Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy