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French toast

Gingerbread and cinnamon sugar elevates the old classic

Once I visited my grandparent’s house, my great-aunt picked up an apple. It was no ordinary apple. It was nibbled by a mouse. Instead of disposing the apple in a hurry, she peeled away the nibbled parts and devoured the rest. I was flabbergasted.

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I remember my grandmother carefully folding plastic bags and placed them in the kitchen drawer. They were wrinkled and worn but were to be reused. On the kitchen table top there was a large bread box. The bread was eaten, day after day, even if it was old and dry. My grandparents and great-aunt treated their possessions with great respect, and even plastic bags were treated as royal table cloths.

Me, I prefer to eat freshly baked bread and avoid bread older than two days. I have become better at not throwing away meat and vegetables, but when it comes to bread there is certainly room for improvement. I am not alone. Nowadays consumers throw away large amounts of food, especially bread. Each Norwegian throws away 51 kilos of food every year. In addition there is all the food that grocery stores throw away and the food that never reach the stores because they are sorted away at the farmers.

We have a long tradition of using leftovers, especially stale bread. Bread pudding, apple trifle or tilslørte bondepiker and French toast are classic recipes honoring old bread. French toast is an old European dish appearing in a German cookbook in Medieval times, called «Arme Ritter».

I use the recipe of the Danish chef Thomas Herman. He fries the bread in cinnamon sugar until it is caramelized. White bread is commonly used for French toast but finer breads like brioche or Christmas cake is extra tasty. If you have even more leftovers you would like to use, you can serve the toast with crushed gingerbread men.

French toast (arme riddere) with gingerbread crumbs

French toast (arme riddere)

French toast with gingerbread crumbs (makes 4)

1 organic egg
100 ml full-fat milk
4 slices stale bread, preferably panettone or julebrød
4 gingerbread men
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
a knob of butter
ice cream to serve

1. Whisk egg and milk until blended. Soak the bread for about 30 minutes.
2. Crush the gingerbread until crumbs and fry in butter and 1 tbsp of the sugar for 5 minutes. Allow to cool on a piece of baking sheet.
3. Mix the rest of the sugar with cinnamon. Melt the butter in a frying pan.
4. Dip the bread in the cinnamonsugar. Fry until golden and caramelized.
5. Serve with ice cream and gingerbread crumbs.