Apple & Pear Pain Perdu

The first slices cut from a Brioche or Panettone are always the best, but this recipe rescues those final slices: the ones that need a big cup of coffee to wash them down!

‘Pain perdu’ means ‘lost bread’ in French and gained it’s name because it reclaims the stale remnants of a loaf which were about to become ‘lost’ and puts them to good use. The term is used in France, Belguim, New Orleans and the Congo and generally refers to ‘French Toast’ style creations where the stale bread is sliced and softened before cooking.

Pain Perdu’s are traditionally eaten for breakfast, or dessert, or for afternoon tea…so I guess they’re good anytime of day!

You can assemble this dish in advance and bake it prior to serving.

Serves 4

2 slices of Panettone or Brioche (1-2cm thick)

100ml Sweet Muscat Wine, Vin Santo, or Sweet Sherry

30g Softened Butter

2 Eating Apples, peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces (Cox or Egremont Russets work particularly well)

2 Ripe Pears, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-sized pieces

Juice of 1/2 a Lemon

For the Frangipane Topping:

70g Softened Butter

50g Caster Sugar

1 Large Organic Egg

75g Ground Almonds

1 Heaped Tbsp Plain Flour

Drizzle each slice of Panettone/Brioche with 1 tbsp of the wine/sherry and then generously butter each slice. Cut the slices in half and place each piece (buttered side upwards) onto a baking tray which has been lined with a piece of baking parchment.

Put the apples, pears, remaining wine/sherry, and the lemon juice into a medium-sized saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften but still keep their shape. Scoop the fruit onto a plate and set aside, leaving the juices in the saucepan. Heat the juices over a high heat and leave to reduce until about 2 tbsp of thick syrup remains.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Remove the saucepan with the syrup in from the heat and tip in the pear and apple pieces, stiring gently to coat the fruit in the syrup.

Beat the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy to start the frangipane. Then gradually add the egg; beating the mixture thoroughly before adding a little more of the egg.

Once the egg is beaten into the mixture, fold in the flour and the ground almonds.

Place the panettone/brioche slices into the pre-heated oven and bake until golden brown and crispy at the edges, this should take 5-10 minutes. Remove the panettone/brioche from the oven and turn the oven temperature down to 180C.

Carefully turn over the slices and spoon an equal portion of the fruit mixture over each slice. Drizzle over any remaining syrup.

Spoon an equal portion of the frangipane mixture over the fruit mixture on each slice (the recipe can be prepared in advance to this point).

Bake the pain perdu until the frangipane is golden brown.

Serve the pain perdu warm accompanied with lashings of clotted cream, creme fraiche, or cinnamon ice cream.

Bon Appetit!