History Dish Mondays: Pain Perdu

Pain Perdu, made with hoo doo.

I had a few slices of Cider Cake left over from last week, so I decided to put it to good use in this recipe for Pain Perdu, or “lost bread.” It’s a Creole favorite similar to french toast.
The source for the modern recipe noted that Pain Perdu was originally flavored with orange flower water, an alcohol based floral flavoring popular in the 19th century. I didn’t have orange flower water, but I did have Florida Water, another 19th century flavouring/perfume with notes of orange flower, lavender, and clove.
According to Florida Water website, it can also be used to treat “Jangled Nerves,” and for “Boudoir Daintiness.” It’s also used for hoo doo. Who knew. (read more.)
I found Florida Water at my local pharmacy, but you can sometimes find it in the Goya food aisle in the grocery store. Orange flower water can be found in the baking section of some grocery stores, or at Middle Eastern food markets.
Pain Perdu
Modern recipe adapted from The American Heritage Cookbook.
Dash Orange Flower Water or Florida Water
2 eggs
1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cups milk
Grated rind of half a lemon
6 slices of “not too fresh” bread; I used left over apple bread.
Combine ingredients and beat thoroughly. Dip slices of bread in the mixture, then fry in plenty of heated butter until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey, or a mixture of sugar and cinnamon.


This was pretty bad. I made a few slices without the Florida Water first, and they were pretty gooshy, but somehow also dry. Maybe it would have been better with regular bread, but I’m not so sure. After the Florida Water was added, it tasted like–surprise–perfume. I drowned it in maple syrup, but it didn’t do much good. I expected the lemon zest to perk it up with a citrus zing, but no. Not really.

Rating: C+ I would stick to a modern french toast recipe.