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The Best German French Toast – Oma's Arme Ritter Rezept

Oma Gerhild

by: Gerhild Fulson  /  Cookbook Author, Blogger, German Oma!

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Oma's German French toast is a traditional Arme Ritter recipe that will remind you of sitting around Oma's table. She would make these as a delicious way to use up stale bread and often serve them with cinnamon-sugar sprinkled over the top.

That's one thing Omas are famous for. Never wasting anything, in this case, stale bread. 

Below, I've drizzled maple syrup on top and served this with fresh raspberries. Lecker lecker!

German French Toast with berrries

Of course, since this tastes to good, I'll make sure I have stale bread around, just in order to make this. There are times hubby asks for pancakes and when I offer to make him this instead, his eyes light up.

For me, I actually find this easier and quicker that making those pancakes. Not that they take much more work, but I think this is easier. And, of course, this Oma likes easy!

French Toast vs Arme Ritter

French toast is literally sliced bread, soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk, and then pan fried. 

Arme Ritter is literally sliced bread, soaked in a mixture of eggs and milk, and then pan fried. Yes, the same. But, there are often slight differences.

This actually goes by so many different names in different countries including German Toast, eggy bread, Bombay toast, French-fried bread, Poor Knights of Windsor (England), Torrijas (Spain), Nun’s Toast, Arme Riddere (Denmark), Rabanadas (Portugal), and Egg Toast.

Of course, in France it's actually not called French Toast but Pain Perdu  which means lost toast.

The History of French Toast / Arme Ritter

Interestingly, researching the history of this dish takes one all the way back to 1st century A.D. in Ancient Rome by a gourmet named Apicus. The history of original recipe appears to be:

"Another sweet dish. Break [slice] fine white bread, crust removed, into rather large pieces which soak in milk [and beaten eggs] Fry in oil, cover with honey and serve." ~ Apicius Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, edited and translated by Joseph Dommers Vehling, recipe 296 [Dover Publications:New York] 1977 (p. 172)

It sure sounds so similar to what we still make today, but it does mean it's neither French or German. 

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German variations of French Toast / Arme Ritter

Arme Ritter was originally considered Arme-Leute-Essen, meaning poor people's food. However, it has found a resurgence in Germany and is now served even in the best restaurants. 

Being German, of course these are fried in Butterschmalz, which is clarified butter. In some regions the egg/milk soaked bread is also coated with breadcrumbs before frying. 

The resulting delicacy should be crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside.

Toppings are often cinnamon/sugar, fruit compote or vanilla sauce.

Arme Ritter can also be served savory, rather than sweet. Salt, pepper and nutmeg are added to the milk/egg mixture. Coat with either breadcrumbs, ground sunflower seeds, or ground almonds. Fry as normal and then cover with a slice of salami or ham topped with cheese. Cover pan and heat until cheese melts. YUM! 

Use your imagination for other savory additions. I'm thinking that adding a slice of tomato, a sprinkling of herbs, or adding some leftover schnitzel would be amazing.

What's the best type of bread to use for French Toast / Arme Ritter

The best bread to use for French toast is Brioche, French Baguette, or Challah. However, almost any bread will work, but the final texture may not be 'perfect'. 

And, perfection isn't always necessary! What is important is that the bread is somewhat stale in order for it to soak up the egg/milk mixture.

Rarely do I have Brioche, French Baguette, or Challah lying around the kitchen. I'll even use some leftover homemade artisan bread (YUM), Ciabatta, or some even some sliced rolls. The result? YUMMY!

How to make Cinnamon Sugar

Our traditional topping for Arme Ritter was a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. This easy breezy topping is perfect for pancakes and rice pudding as well. 

Using a ration of 1 to 4 will give you that perfect level of spiciness with its distinctive cinnamon flavor but not too overwhelming. Adjust it according to your tastes. 

For example, mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 4 teaspoon

 granulated sugar.  

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The Best German French Toast – Oma's Arme Ritter Rezept

Oma's German French toast is a traditional Arme Ritter recipe that will remind you of sitting around Oma's table. She would make these as a delicious way to use up stale bread and often serve them with cinnamon-sugar sprinkled over the top.

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

12 minutes

Total Time

22 minutes

Servings:

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound loaf of stale bread, ½-inch to ¾-inch thick slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (optional) 
  • 1 cup milk (part cream if desired) 
  • 3 - 4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F, if you want to keep the Arme Ritter warm until all are fried.
  2. Mix eggs, salt, sugar, lemon zest, and milk in a bowl.
  3. Dip bread slices, both sides, into egg mixture. 
  4. Let bread slices sit for a few minutes on a wax-paper covered counter so the egg mixture will soak in. 
  5. Meanwhile, heat butter in a saute pan or griddle. 
  6. Fry bread, in batches, until golden brown on both sides (about 2 to 3 minutes per side)
  7. Remove from pan and transfer to cookie sheet and keep in warm oven until rest of bread has been fried.
  8. Serve with fruit sauce, syrup, or sprinkled with powdered sugar or sugar and cinnamon.

Notes/Hints:

  • For the cinnamon/sugar mixture, stir together 1 tablespoon cinnamon with 4 tablespoons granulated sugar.
  • The best type of bread to use is Brioche, French Baguette, or Challah. However, almost any bread will work. Just make sure it's stale so it can soak up the egg/milk mixture. The final texture may not be 'perfect', but the taste will be awesome!

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Oma's German French toast is a traditional Arme Ritter recipe that will remind you of sitting around Oma's table. She would make these as a delicious way to use up stale bread.

Oma’s German French Toast ~ Arme Ritter

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Oma’s German French Toast ~ Arme Ritter
Oma's German French toast is a traditional Arme Ritter recipe that will remind you of sitting around Oma's table. She would make these as a delicious way to use up stale bread.

Ingredients: stale bread, eggs, salt, sugar, milk, butter,

For the full recipe, scroll up ...

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