Portuguese French Toast: The Famous Rabanada

Portuguese French Toast: The Famous Rabanada
By The Cooking World, Editorial Staff
December 18, 2020

A Delicious Portuguese French Toast

For our last recipe before Christmas, we decided to share with you, a delicious and traditional Christmas sweet from our country, the Portuguese French Toast, rabanadas as we call it.

During Christmas, you can easily find dozens of varieties throughout Portugal. Rabanadas are so popular and so traditional for Christmas, that during the holidays you can buy special bread—pan de rabanada—just for making them. In the winter months, it also becomes available at many Cafés, just ask the staff for one Rabanada.

Portuguese French Toast differ from American French toast in several ways. Both are a great way to use up stale bread, but rabanadas are commonly enjoyed as a dessert or afternoon treat, rather than as a breakfast food.

10 minutes
1 hour 10 minutes


For the French Toast

500 g (2 cups) milk
166 g (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) water
1 cinnamon stick
60 g (4 tablespoons) sugar
2 g (1/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt
2 lemon peels
1/2 loaf of bread (about 10 slices)
2 eggs
vegetable oil, for frying
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar, for coating
5 g (1 1/2 teaspoon) powdered cinnamon, for coating

For the Wine Sauce

500 ml (2 cups) port wine
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 orange, sliced
1 clementine, sliced
2 cloves
1 star anise
75 g (5 tablespoons sugar)

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  1. Start by making the wine sauce. Place the port wine, cinnamon stick, orange, clementine, cloves, star anise, and sugar in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then lower the heat to a simmer, and reduce for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the total volume has reduced by half.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the bread into about 10 slices, each about 2.5 cm (0.98") thick. Place the bread slices in a shallow baking dish, in one layer if possible (if not do it in batches). Ideally, you should use one or two days old bread to ensure it doesn’t fall apart during the soaking and cooking.
  3. In a medium pot, warm the milk, water, cinnamon stick, sugar, salt, and lemon peels on the stovetop over low heat.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl and heat the oil to 180 ºC (350 ºF).
  5. Pour milk mixture over the sliced bread, distributing the liquid evenly over all of the slices, allowing the bread to coat and soak a bit.
  6. Use tongs to pick up a slice of the milk-soaked bread (handling it gently) and dip it into the egg, coating both sides, and allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl.
  7. Place the bread into the oil and cook until well-browned on one side.
  8. Flip the bread and cook until both sides are golden brown, then​ carefully transfer rabanada to the plate lined with paper towels. Repeat with remaining slices of bread, cooking several simultaneously if the skillet is large enough.
  9. Mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over both sides of the cooked rabanadas.
  10. Serve rabanadas warm or at room temperature with the wine sauce.
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