Two Old Takes on French Toast – Week 2 2021


Welcome back! This week’s recipe (or more accurately, recipes) are two old takes on what most of us now know as French Toast: Panperdy & Poor Knights Pudding (try saying that 3 times fast!). But before we dive into this week’s recipe, a little housekeeping

First off, a HUGE thanks to each and every one of you who cooked along last week. Whether you’re a Cook Off veteran, a newbie or someone in-between, we LOVE your enthusiasm. We’ll be drawing for the Week 1 prize this Monday. Stay tuned to the Colony’s Facebook page for the results.

Secondly, we had a couple of comments last week from folks new to the Cook Off. They were reluctant to try the dish because the quantities of ingredients called for were so enormous and they really didn’t want to waste that much food (or in last week’s case, that much good wine) on a dodgey-sounding recipe. So, attention newbies:

A modern adaptation of the recipe is provided at the end of each blog post. That version does NOT require you to produce enough of the dish to feed a small army AND it’s been tested by one or more of our Cook Off Insiders.

Last, but absolutely not least, a HUGE shoutout to the all the Cook Off Insiders who helped research, select and test this year’s recipes. This week’s modern adaptation and accompanying photos were provided by Marianne Wong and Elizabeth Slucas. Thanks everyone. We can’t do what we do without you!

This Week’s Recipe

This week’s dish is a classic in every sense of the word. The earliest surviving English printed recipe for this dish dates waaaaaay back to the 14th century, when it was referred to as paynfoundew. Our old friend Gervase Markham included a recipe for The Best Panperdy in his how-to manual for women: The English Housewife: Containing the inward and outward vertues which ought to be in a compleate woman; as her skill in physicke, surgery, cookery, extraction of oyles, banqueting-stuffe, ordering of great feasts, preseruing of all sorts of wines, conceited secrets, distillations, perfumes, ordering of wooll, hempe, flax, making cloth, and dying, the knowledge of dayries, office of malting, of oates, their excellent vses in a family, of brewing, baking, and all other things belonging to an houshold (Gotta love those snappy 17th century book titles).

take a dozen eggs, and break them, and beat them very well, then put unto them cloves, mace, cinnamon and nutmeg, and good store of sugar, with as much salt as shall season it: then take a manchet, and cut it into thick slices like toasts; which done, take your fryin pan, and put into it a good store of sweet butter, and, being melted, lay in your slices of bread, then pour upon them one half of your eggs; then when that is fried, with a dish turn your slices of bread upward, and then pour on them the other half of your eggs, so turn them till both sides be brown; then dish it up, and serve it with sugar strewed upon it.

It’s believed that paynfoundew and panperdy are derived from the French term pain perdu, which translates as lost bread. Indeed, some early versions of this dish specify the use of stale bread.

In 1658, cookbook author WM includes a variation of this dish he called Poor Knights Pudding in the The Compleat Cook: Expertly Prescribing The Most Ready Wayes, Whether Italian, Spanish Or French, For Dressing Of Flesh And Fish, Ordering Of Sauces Or Making Of Pastry.

To make Poor Knights pudding. Cut two penny loaves in round slices, dip them in half a pint of Cream or faire water, then lay them abroad in a dish, and beat three Eggs and grated Nutmegs and sugar, beat them with the Cream then melt some butter in a frying pan, and wet the sides of the toasts and lay them in on the wet side, then pour in the rest upon them, and so fry them, serve them in with Rosewater, sugar and butter.

Interestingly (at least to a food nerd), is that there’s nothing poor or lost about either of these versions. Markham’s recipe directs us to use manchet, or finest white bread, and both authors list luxuries like sugar and nutmeg among their ingredients. In the 17th century, nutmeg was quite literally worth its weight in gold. And the Dutch traded Manhattan and spilled a LOT of blood to control the trade of the little brown nut.

Make it Your Own

As always, feel free to make this recipe your own. Switch out standard white bread for sourdough, or something savoury, or something sweet like brooch or even cake! Ditch the maple syrup for something more adventurous. Panperdy and Poor Knights Pudding were traditionally served with a variety of accompaniments including fresh fruit compote, stewed fruit, clouted (a.k.a. clotted) cream, slightly sweetened whipped cream, and/or rosewater syrup. Feel free to mix and match to come up with your favourite combination. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

Marianne’s Poor Knight’s Pudding made with a rosemary and olive sourdough! She writes “This is not the prettiest french toast I’ve made, but it did taste good! Since I had a homemade loaf of sourdough with rosemary and olives on hand, that was my bread of choice. It stood up nicely in the milk.”

Elizabeth’s Poor Knight’s Pudding with black currant jam and rosewater sauce. She writes “My bread was very fresh and soft, soaking up a lot of milk. Once cooked, it gave the bread a very custardy center.”

Your Chance to Win

And there you have it. Remember, snap a pic of your Panperdy or Poor Knights Pudding and post it as a comment under the Week 2 recipe on our Facebook page for a chance to win this week’s prize – A $50 gift certificate for Silk Road Spice Merchant; THE place for top quality, hard to find spices. Cubeb berries and grains of paradise anyone?

Deadline for this week’s entry is 11:59 PM, Friday, July 16 , 2021