Poor Knight’s Pudding (Poor Knights or Poor Knight’s of Windsor) is an excellent way of using up stale bread (or even fresh) in a very appetising sweet ‘eggy bread’ recipe (Poor Knight’s is normally a breakfast dish, usually served with a jam and sugar). This style of recipe is quite old and very popular in many countries, where nearly all the similar recipes call for the bread to be dipped into a milk and egg mixture, when it is then fried until golden brown on both sides.
In many places (America etc.) they refer to this as ‘French Toast’, (although there is no evidence the French first came up with the idea) while in Britain it is called Poor Knights Pudding, Poor Knight’s of Windsor, or Poor Knights. The French, (obviously!) do not call it French Toast, they call it ‘Pain Perdu’ (lost bread) because it is a way of reviving stale bread.
This particular modern recipe for ‘toasted bread’ is a development on from ones made popular by R. May in 1685, published in his ‘The Accomplisht Cook’: Toasts of Divers sorts … Toste them before the fire, and run them over with butter, sugar, or oyl … ‘Cinamon Toasts’. Cut fine thin toasts, then toast them on a gridiron, and lay them in ranks in a dish, put to them fine beaten cinamon mixed with sugar and some claret, warm them over the fire, and serve them hot. ‘French Toasts’. Cut French Bread, and toast it in pretty thick toasts on a clean gridiron, and serve them steeped in claret, sack, or any wine, with sugar and juice of orange.
Note: The British recipe is made slightly differently to other places in the world, (and it actually tastes better because of it) Poor Knight’s uses white wine and the egg yolk only, which is not mixed into the milk, and with the egg being the last coating it seals the sweetness in the bread nicely. Stale bread works particularly well in this recipe because the white wine and milk revives it, giving it a wonderful stickiness, just like a pudding.
POOR KNIGHT’S PUDDING RECIPE
- 8 slices of fresh or stale bread, cut 3cm thick
- a little sweet white wine (for each slice) you can also use a sweet fortified-wine like sherry
- a little milk (for each slice)
- 1 egg yolk (for each slice)
- a little butter (for each slice)
- a little sugar (for each slice)
- a little orange marmalade (for each slice)
- a pinch of ground cinnamon (for each slice)
Put the white wine, milk and sugar into a bowl, mix thoroughly, then pour some onto a flat dish/plate.
Put the egg yolks into a bowl, beat, then pour some onto a separate flat dish/plate
Dip the bread first into the white wine, milk and sugar plate, on both sides, let it soak up some of the liquid (add more liquid to the dish for each slice).
Then dip the bread, on both sides, into the beaten egg.
Fry the bread gently, on both sides, in a little hot butter in a large frying pan. Dish up on a hot plate and spread a little orange marmalade over the toasted eggy bread and then sprinkle over some sugar and some ground cinnamon.