French toast is the most requested weekend breakfast at our house—and it’s one of the easiest meals for kids to make. It’s a fun—and tactile—experience that includes beating the eggs, adding milk, and lowering slices of bread into the mixture and letting them soak before frying them in a pan. One day, as I watched my kids devour a box of bite-size doughnuts, it occurred to me that French toast could be downsized too. Kids love making French toast bites and topping them with cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup. Serve this dish with a side of red or green seedless grapes or orange wedges for extra color.
What You’ll Need
- ¼ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 thick slices of slightly stale white bread (look for thick-cut bread so your cubes will be large enough!)
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- Pinch of salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- Maple syrup
What to Do
- Let your helper measure the sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl, stir the ingredients, and set the bowl aside. Trim the crusts from the bread and cut each slice into nine 1½-inch cubes.Teachable Moment: 4 Surprising French Toast Facts
- French toast is a lot of things (soothing, delicious, and more). But one thing it isn’t is French. Historians have found that the ancient Romans beat everyone to dipping their bread in eggs, as early as the 4th century.
- According to an early cookbook, Romans called French toast pan dulcis, which means “sweet bread.”
- Elsewhere, French toast goes by other names. In France it’s called pain perdu. Translation: “lost bread.”
- French toast is a great way to use up old or stale bread. Soaking the bread in eggs makes it less dry, and stale bread survives the dunking better than fresh bread.
- Encourage your child to crack two eggs into a large mixing bowl or do this step yourself. Give her a fork and let her beat the eggs. Have her add the milk, measure and add the salt, and whisk the mixture again. (You can hold the bowl for her to help with this step.)
- Show your aspiring chef how to place the bread cubes into the egg mixture. She can toss them gently, a few at a time, using a large spoon. (Make sure the cubes are evenly coated!)Teachable Moment: 4 French Toast Facts to Wow Your Family and Friends
- Other names for French Toast include German toast, eggy bread, Bombay toast, and poor knights’ pudding.
- The name French Toast first shows up in a cookbook from 1660. This recipe calls for bread soaked in orange juice, wine, and sugar—and there’s not an egg in sight.
- Other early recipes required the usual milk and eggs, as well as spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, or a topping of honey.
- Historical evidence suggests that French toast was probably a treat for families that could afford more expensive groceries. In the Middle Ages, sugar and spices weren’t very cheap.
- Place a large, heavy sauté pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add half the butter and let it melt. Shake excess egg off the cubes and place some of the cubes in a single layer in the pan. How many you add at a time will depend on the size of your pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, or until all cubes are well browned on all sides. With a spatula, remove the French toast bites and place them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Let your little helper use 2 spoons to toss the cubes and coat them with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Cook the remaining cubes. Serve the bites with maple syrup.