Commonly known as an indulgent breakfast food, French toast, or “pain perdu”, is actually a dessert in France. Although the origins of French toast is not entirely clear, some say that the earliest mention of French toast can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire.
Extremely easy to make; all you need is old bread, eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar. However to make vegan French toast, we’ll be substituting the eggs, with chia seeds, flax seeds and chickpea flour. Regular milk will also be substituted with a plant based milk.
“Pain perdu” translates to “lost bread”. People originally made French toast to make use of old, stale bread which would otherwise have been thrown out. Soaking the stale bread in the egg custard “revives” it, making it fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside when cooked. Choosing the right bread is so important when making French toast, which is why you should not use white, pre-sliced bread. Not only does that kind of bread contain a ton of unwanted additives, like high fructose corn syrup, it is usually pre-sliced and way too thin for what we are going for with this recipe. To make the perfect French toast, it’s imperative that the bread is sliced to ¾ inch – an inch thick. The texture of white, pre-sliced bread also would not hold up well when soaking up the egg custard, leaving you with an extremely soggy French toast that will most likely just fall apart during the cooking process.
A lot of the times, even in today’s society, it can get a little frustrating feeling like you are having to miss out on many of the “normal” things we’ve grown accustomed to while on a mainstream animal-based diet. But with a little know-how and slight tweaking here and there, you can really veganize any recipe! To make the egg custard, we’ll be using chia seeds and flax seeds as our “egg” base. When you leave chia seeds and flax seeds to sit in fluids for a while, they become gelatinous and develop a gooey coating – which is why they are so great for substituting eggs! The hydrophilic properties of both the chia seeds and flax seeds give them the ability to absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, which is what creates the gel-like consistency when you mix the seeds with water.
Classic Vegan French Toast
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 3 tbs water
- 300 g tofu
- 3 cups plant based milk - I used cashew as it’s extra creamy
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp pink salt - you can use any salt you prefer
- 8 slices of bread - I used a seeded bloomer with a thick crust
- Coconut oil or vegan butter to grease the pan with
In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flax seeds, chia seeds and water. Let stand for 10 minutes to let it develop its gel consistency. During this time, slice your bread, making sure they are about an inch thick.
Add everything into a blender; the chia seeds and flax seed mixture, spices...etc. Blend everything together on high for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Until everything is well combined and the texture of the vegan egg custard is smooth.
Pour the vegan egg custard into a shallow bowl, making sure it’s big enough for the bread you’ll be using.
Heat a shallow pan on high heat and grease with vegan butter or coconut oil. Reduce to medium heat when you are ready to place the toast in the pan.
Dip the toast into the vegan egg custard for about 15 seconds on each side.
Fry the toast for about 1 - 2 minutes on each side, or until the desired texture is achieved. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you’ve cooked your desired amount of French toast!
STEP ONE – SOAK CHIA & FLAX SEEDS
In a small mixing bowl, add 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, one tablespoon of flax seeds and 3 tablespoons of water. Mix well and leave to rest for about 10 minutes so that the seeds start to activate and form the gooey jelly consistency we will need to replace the eggs.
STEP TWO – BLEND!
Once the chia and flax seeds have absorbed the water, add everything into a high speed blender; tofu, salt, cinnamon…etc. Blend on high for about 1 minute, until everything is well combined and the custard has a smooth consistency.
STEP THREE – POUR INTO LARGE BOWL
Pour the custard mixture into a bowl large enough for the bread to be placed in the custard without being bent, as we want the entire surface area to be coated in the custard.
STEP FOUR – HEAT PAN ON HIGH
While your pan is heating up, add vegan butter or coconut oil to it to ensure the toast doesn’t stick! Place the sliced bread in the center of the custard and let sit for 15 seconds on each side. We don’t really want to soak the bread too much. Leaving the bread in the custard too long will make for a soggier toast. We want it to be fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside.
STEP FIVE – FRY THE TOAST
Carefully place the toast in the center of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, and fry for about 3 minutes. Using your spatula, press the excess custard against the crust of the bread for a cleaner appearance. After 3 minutes, flip the toast and fry for about 1 to 2 minutes – depending on how crispy you prefer your toast. The second side will need less cooking time.
STEP SIX – PLATE AND REPEAT!
Plate the toast – keep in mind that as you continue cooking, the pan will keep getting hotter and hotter so you’ll need to decrease the heat as you go on. This will vary depending on the type of pan your using. Serve your French toast with fresh fruit and top with whipped cream, or keep it simple and serve with vegan butter and maple syrup!
I can’t stress enough how important choosing the right kind of bread is. This will determine how good your French toast turns out. I find that the thicker the crust is, the better the French toast. I prefer using bread that has seeds, as this creates more texture.
You can store any remaining custard in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Add a little plant-based milk to the custard before using it again, as it will become thicker the longer you leave it.
This is such an easy and simple recipe. If you are on the lazy side, like me, you can skip the chia and flax seeds altogether and simply blend the tofu, chickpea flour and plant milk. Although, I like including them as they are packed full of soul-soothing nutrients! Chia seeds are an excellent source of Omega-3s and fiber. Flax seeds are also full of Omega-3s. They even contain lignans, which is a plant compound that contains estrogen and antioxidant properties which have been shown to lower the risk for cancer and improve cholesterol levels.
If you do decide to skip the chia and flax seeds, you will need to increase the amount of chickpea flour – instead of ½ cup you’ll need 1 cup. I love making French toast on weekends for brunch or for special occasions, such as mother’s day, Valentine’s Day or when I want to spoil myself a little and have an extra nice breakfast in bed!
There are endless ways you can decorate and top your French toast, as it can be enjoyed as a sweet dish or a savoury one paired with ketchup and sausages. How do you like your French toast? Sweet or savoury?
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.