The Simple Step You Need To Take Before Soaking French Toast

Often a simple bowl of cereal or a bagel with cream cheese is all you need for breakfast, but every once in a while, a generous serving of French toast covered with powdered sugar, maple syrup, and fruit can really hit the spot. Made with thick slices of bread soaked in milk, eggs, vanilla, and a sweetener (Alton Brown suggests honey), French toast is an especially indulgent breakfast. But historically, it wasn't always that way, as the dessert-like dish had more humble beginnings.

According to Food & Wine, the dish is known as pain perdu in French, translating to "lost bread." As a way to minimize waste, traditional French toast was made with leftover (or "lost") bread. Because the bread would be stale at this point, eggs and milk were used to re-moisten it. Frying the soaked bread in a pan would then give it a second life, producing an extra meal.

Nowadays, people frequently use fresh bread for the dish, but this may be a mistake, as stale bread really does make better French toast (via The Spruce Eats). But if you don't have a stale loaf ready, it's still possible to make a knockout French toast, though there's one additional step you'll have to take.

Keep your toaster handy when making French toast

When making French toast, the bread typically goes straight from the bag into the bowl of custard, then directly into the pan — but for better results, you'll want to use your toaster.

This step is a must when using fresh bread for French toast, the Kitchn points out, because otherwise, you may end up with a soggy batch. The milk and eggs mixture makes the bread more decadent, but if you're using already moist bread, the excess liquid can be overkill — and that's where a toaster comes into play.

Per America's Test Kitchen, you should employ this drying tip right before soaking the bread. Adjust your toaster to the lowest heat setting and, little by little, continue to toast the bread until it's fully dry, but doesn't appear browned. As the outlet explains, the low heat of the toaster works as an alternative to leaving the bread on the counter overnight, creating a similar texture to stale bread. The Kitchn says you can also use your oven for this step if you're making a larger batch.