Pain perdu is a French nursery dessert. Meaning "lost bread," it reclaims day-old leftover bread and is the French answer to, aptly named, French toast.
Challah is a traditional Jewish egg bread, slightly sweet and buttery, and very similar to a brioche, only it is braided and easily torn into soft, sinewy chunks. This recipe is the perfect way to use all the leftover challah from Hanukkah and turn it into a warming, winter breakfast that rekindles the holiday flames.
If you don't feel like making the vanilla custard sauce to spoon down on top, simply melt a jarful of good-quality fruit jam over low heat in a pot and serve it alongside.
About the author: Kerry Saretsky is a Serious Eats intern and the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way.
Begin by making the crème anglaise. Heat the half and half in a saucepot over medium heat.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a hand mixer until they are light and pale in color.
Very slowly stream the hot half and half, while mixing, into the sugar-yolk mixture.
Return the mixture to the saucepot and heat over medium heat. Add the vanilla. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the crème anglaise coats is thick and coats the back of the spoons. Pass through a strainer so that any bits of egg that have scrambled will be removed. Allow to cool only slightly while you assemble the pain perdu.
Whisk together the half and half, sugar, honey, and eggs. In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoons of butter. Press the challah, one piece at a time, into the custard, flipping once, so the bread has a chance to soak it up, but not to become overly saturated. Sauté the custard-soaked bread about 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden, in batches, using more butter as necessary.
Dust powdered sugar over the top of the pain perdu. Serve with the crème anglaise.