Saturday mornings and simple breakfasts just naturally seem to go together. Hands up – how many of you actually eat breakfast every morning? While most of us will whip up breakfast for our children, breakfast for us tends to be a quick cup of coffee and a bite or two of toast while rushing out the door.
The very first breakfast food that I taught myself to make (beyond maybe a scrambled egg) was French Toast. Since then, I have amassed a collection of French Toast recipes – some of these recipes have been plucked from old, obscure books on the subject.
Old cookbooks are a blast to read. Some are down right condescending toward women and their roles in the family. Others offer advice that is so out of the realm of life today. I have a cookbook that has an entire section dedicated to setting a proper table, everything from formal to casual to buffet dinners. This section includes the proper placement of cigarettes and ashtrays on the table! (My “jewelry” box on my nightstand is actually a cigarette box that once sat on the coffee table in our living room. It has a divider down the middle – filtered cigarettes were on one side, non-filtered on the other). I find old books that are a blend of recipes and “wifely” tips to be the most comical. We’ve come a long way, ladies. No longer is it a wife’s duty to fetch her husband’s slippers, among other things.
In 1887 The White House published a cookbook that contained recipes from their chef. Royal Toast is one of those recipes. It offers up two renditions of what we now call French Toast – one made with stale bread, the other with stale cake. I suppose it was a way of utilizing old breads and cakes. I don’t know about you, but generally speaking I don’t have a lot of old cakes just sitting about in my kitchen. If you were to read the original recipe from 1887, it would not contain a list of ingredients, only a brief set of instructions. (The instructions are intact; the ingredients I’ve written out for the sake of convenience). I’m not sure just when the White House first began publishing cookbooks or when that practice ended. I’ve tried googling that information but to no avail. I think the 1887 book might be the oldest, as it appears in most searches of White House cookbooks – or perhaps it is the most “famous”.
Royal Toast – Made with Bread
6 Slices of stale Sweet or white Bread
1 Cup Fresh Milk
2 eggs, well beaten
1 Stick Butter
Dip thin slices of bread into fresh milk; have ready two eggs well beaten; dip the slices in the egg and fry them in butter to a light brown; when fried, pour over them a syrup, any kind that you choose, and serve hot.
Royal Toast – Made with Cake
1 Stale plain cake, sliced
1 Cup Cream
1 Stick Butter
Equally as good is to cut a stale cake into slices an inch and a half in thickness; pour over them a little good sweet cream; then fry lightly in fresh butter in a smooth frying pan; when done, place over each slice of cake a layer of preserves or you may make a rich sauce appropriate to the hour to be served with it.
Note for Cake Recipe: Since most of us do not have stale plain cake just sitting around, use a store-bought butter loaf, pound cake or even Angel Food Cake for this twist on French toast. Use preserves such as berries and serve with warm blueberry syrup. Some fruit on the side is always a nice touch with French Toast.
If you are interested in reading a few old recipes from the White House, here’s a link: