The Ultimate Autumn Breakfast: Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Jack Hughes 29 October 2019

Hot Take: I think the Pumpkin Spice Latte is disgusting.

Ok, maybe that’s not a hot take anymore (those in the food community have moved on since this seasonal coffee made its first appearance at Starbucks in 2003), however, I still struggle to understand its continued popularity. I receive a lot of raised eyebrows from my friends here, but I find the taste just too overwhelming. Its aroma is that of the headiest candle, enough to give you a headache, whilst its taste is cloyingly sweet, syrupy and all-too artificial.

And yet, so many people see this drink as the epitome of autumn. Look, there’s nothing wrong with the latte’s constituent ingredients – is there anything more autumnal than pumpkin and spice? These are flavours I want to revel in at this time of the year – I just want to do it on my own terms. Pumpkin and coffee are not the most kindred bedfellows, let’s not pretend they are. Call me a traditionalist (or whatever else – something tells me a lot of you will have other names for me following this admission) but I want my coffee to be coffee and my dessert to be dessert. Simple!

Well, not so simple. I actually think the pumpkin spice flavour is perfect for an indulgent breakfast/weekend brunch.

I recently discovered the joy of pumpkin french toast – that is, everyday eggy bread with the added flavour of pumpkin puree and ground cinnamon. This is the most delicious breakfast anyone could ask for (and it is super simple!).

A little background to the perennial breakfast favourite that is eggy bread (also called pain perdu, gypsy toast, or Arme Ritter): The earliest known reference to the sweet treat comes from the Apicius, a collection of Latin recipes that dates to the 4th or 5th century, where it is simply called aliter dulcia (‘’another sweet dish’’). In the recipe, the cook is told to ‘’slice fine white bread, remove the crust, and break it into large pieces. Soak these pieces in milk and beaten egg, fry in oil, and cover with honey before serving.’’

Later, in the fourteenth century, a German recipe used the name Arme Ritter (‘’poor knights’’), a moniker also used in England and across Northern Europe. The French also invented their own version, as Masterchef extraordinaire Taillevent presented a recipe for ‘’tostées dorées’’.

So, a long, illustrious history for this breakfast stalwart.

Add pumpkin and cinnamon to this classic, then, and you have pure magic. The pumpkin puree may seem like an obscure ingredient, however, I promise that it is not hard to find – in Sainsbury’s, simply seek out the international aisle and you will find a can of the stuff (it isn’t expensive either!). Eat this, and you will never want a Pumpkin Spice Latte again! 😉



Pumpkin French Toast (Serves 2 hungry/hungover people)


2 large eggs (3 medium)

120ml milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp cinnamon

50g pumpkin puree

4 slices brioche (or any other thick, white sliced bread)

2 tbsp butter



1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin puree.
2. Lay the brioche slices in a single layer in a shallow dish and pour the egg mixture over them.
3. Allow the brioche to soak up the egg mixture on one side for 2-3 mins, then turn the slices over and soak for 2 mins more.
4. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Lift two slices of the brioche out of the egg mixture and add to the frying pan. Fry for 3 minutes a side, until they are golden and crisp.
5. Repeat with the other two slices.
6. Serve. These are perfect with a dusting of icing sugar and some tart berries on the side.


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