Don’t you dare say ‘French Toast’!
Rabanadas are almost like French toast…but hey!… they are not French…they are ultimately Portuguese and every Portuguese Christmas table proudly displays “rabanadas”…
This type of “pain perdu” recipe is quite common in many countries…. where there was bread, there was “pain perdu”, lost bread…
The use of ‘old’ bread is so common that the earliest reference to French toast appears in the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes that dates back to the 4th or 5th century…
The term Apicius comes from the bearer of the name: Marcus Gavius Apicius, and has long been associated with refined appreciation for food. Marcus, a Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury, lived sometime in the 1st century AD. He is often considered to be the author of the book that is erroneously attributed to him.
The text is organized in ten books:
- Epimeles — The Careful Housekeeper
- Sarcoptes — The Meat Mincer
- Cepuros — The Gardener
- Pandecter — Many Ingredients
- Ospreon — Pulse
- Aeropetes — Birds
- Polyteles — The Gourmet
- Tetrapus — The Quadruped
- Thalassa — The Sea
- Halieus — The Fisherman
The fried bread recipe was inserted in The Gourmet book.
Clearly, there are many translations and variations for this dish…as frying stale or old bread was a common strategy to upgrade taste and make what was once “perdu”, lost, a heavenly delicacy…
Here is the Portuguese way…that is, rabanadas…which ..of course…are unique…
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup of vegetable/olive oil
1/4 cup luke warm milk **
8 slices of white bread
(** some more recent variations use cream or condensed milk instead of plain milk)
Combine spices and sugar and set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Whisk together the spice mixture, eggs, milk and pour into a shallow plate. Dip the bread into this milky mixture and then dip in the egg mixture …fry the egg-coated slices until golden brown, flip to fry the other side.
Let the slices rest on parchment paper so extra oil is absorbed and toast do not get a soggy feel…rest is king…..
Typically these slices are sprinkled with cinnamon and white sugar.
Recently a creamy smooth egg sauce has been added to many “rabanada” recipes…also raisins or nuts are added…