Pumpkin French Toast (Pain Perdu Recipe)

Pumpkin French Toast (Pain Perdu Recipe) Recipe

It’s that time of the year again! Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. The time for fall flavors has definitely arrived. Pumpkin is one of the most versatile ingredients of the season, and today I used it to put a twist on French toast. I prepared a simple custard batter flavored with pumpkin purée and saffron and soaked day-old stale bread. I paired it with a saffron-sweetened heavy whipping cream. The dish is fragrant and flavorful without being overly sweet. It’s definitely a departure from your average pain perdu (literally "stolen bread").

This would be a wonderful treat for Sunday brunch, or for the day after Thanksgiving. I’m making it today for Lulu as a reward for volunteering to take the girls trick-or-treating last night. The girls’ feet started hurting, so he cut the outing short and took them to the supermarket to buy bags of chocolates and candies. That still counts though, right?


Yields: 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) challah bread (or any stale bread)
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, as needed
½ cup homemade pumpkin purée (click on the link for the recipe), or store-bought
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup whipping cream, cold
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, to taste
2 tablespoons Halloween-themed sprinkles (optional)


Prepping the saffron: In a mortar and pestle, grind 3/4 teaspoon of saffron threads into a fine powder.

Making pumpkin French toast batter:

Cut the bread into 10 slices, then cut them in half.

For the custard, beat the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with 3/4 cup granulated sugar until you get a pale yellow foam; the texture of the egg yolks will be thicker. Add the milk, pumpkin purée, half the amount of ground saffron and salt.

Making saffron-flavored whipped cream:

Reserve a few tablespoons of cream for the saffron.

Always make sure your electric whisk is completely clean prior to whipping cream for optimum results. The whipping cream should be whipped cold. First, whisk the heavy cream for about 2 minutes at low speed. Increase the speed of your mixer and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes until it forms soft peaks. Add powdered sugar and the remaining saffron to the sweetened whipped cream. Add the reserved cream into the mortar and pestle to gather any remaining saffron powder (saffron is quite expensive, so don't waste it!). Pour the saffron liquid into the whipped cream. Mix until the color is uniform. Don't over-beat or the texture will become grainy.

Assembly time:

Soak each slice of bread in the French toast batter.

Place a non-stick pan over medium heat. Grease it with a little butter (count about 2 tablespoons per 4 slices of bread). Melt it and wait until it's nutty and fragrant. Place 3 to 4 slices of soaked bread and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip them and cook for another minute.

Serve with saffron-flavored whipped cream and top with sprinkles (if used). Drizzle with maple syrup (if needed).

Serve with a cup of unsweetened tea.

Bon appétit!


You could also flavor the French toast batter with other flavorings, depending on the season. Chocolate would be a great choice too so the batter would taste less eggy.

Since the pumpkin purée takes a few hours to make, it would have to be done long before you make the French toast batter. You could also use canned pumpkin as an alternative, but it would have to be cooked to avoid an unpleasant raw pumpkin flavor.

I didn't serve the pumpkin French toast with maple syrup. Instead, I served golden raisins. In a small pan, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add 1 cup raisins. Stir well for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle with a few drops of vanilla.

For added crunch, you could sprinkle the top with slightly toasted sliced almonds.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 1, 2011.


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