The Breakfast Club,
Poor Knights of Windsor,
or French Toast?
I am breakfasting like a poor Knight today, but with a regal history though; my entry for The Breakfast Club this month is Poor Knights of Windsor served with home-made raspberry jam, a decadent little breakfast treat and something that certainly does not feature on my diet sheet…….but a little of what you fancy now and then does you good ~ or so I have been told. The breakfast theme for September is Conserves, and considering I have been up to my ears with preserving over the last few weeks, I think I am very brave to enter something fruity with a high sugar content!
I am also entering this recipe as a nod the start of British Food Fortnight and as a reminder that many so called “foreign” recipes actually belong to us here on the British Isles…….hence my rhetorical question in the title. Poor Knights of Windsor are crisply fried toasts that have been soaked in boozy milk and then dipped in eggs (yolks) before being fried in butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and doused in caster sugar BEFORE being served with jam, so pretty lo~cal then! But I adore these fluffy crisply fried toasts and I always feel so connected to past when I am eating them. They are similar the French version of Pain Perdu and the North American versions of French Toast insofar as they are slices of fried soaked bread, but the similarity stops there ~ as Poor Knights of Windsor have booze in them and are soaked first and then dipped in the egg separately.
These unusually named sweet fried toasts have an interesting history; this dish originated during the middle ages in England and spread all over the world with many variations. Traditionalists use stale bread, but stale cake is a good substitute and I like to use Brioche. Red wine can be used instead of white, and you can add milk, as I have done here, you then have a more recognizable dish called, incorrectly, French toast. The Poor Knights of Windsor, incidentally, was a military order formed by King Edward III in the 14th Century. They are retired military men who accompany the Knights and Ladies of the Garter at their services and ceremonies, the red uniforms of the Military Knights adding colour and tone to proceedings, although why these boozy eggy breads are named after them is unclear.
But back to the 21st Century and today, as this is my entry for the Breakfast Club the conserve element is the dollop of jam on these fried eggy breads, which I hope counts…….I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I really enjoyed a round of these this morning, with my home-made raspberry jam and the flavour of the wine and sherry really enhances the dish and makes it all very grown up ~ this recipe is sometimes called Poor Knights Pudding and I think it would make a great end to a very British meal! DO try these, the fact that the egg is added after soaking makes a crispy covering that keeps the bread inside all fluffy and almost soufflé like ~ it’s all very historical and genteel.
Time to go now, the recipe and link to a printable recipe follows, have a great start to the new week and see you soon.
Poor Knights of Windsor ~ Boozy Toast
4 slices day-old white bread, or brioche
2 tablespoons caster sugar
150 ml milk
1 tablespoon sweet sherry
1 tablespoon white wine
4 egg yolks, beaten
75 g butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons strawberry jam or 4 teaspoons raspberry jam
Remove the crusts from the bread and cut each slice in half – into 2 thin fingers of bread.
Place 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the milk, white wine and sherry in a shallow dish and stir to dissolve the sugar.
Place the egg yolks in a shallow dish and beat well then dip the slices of bread in the milk mixture and then into the egg yolks.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the bread until golden brown on both sides. Drain well and keep hot while the remaining pieces are fried.
To serve – sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and serve hot with strawberry or raspberry jam.