27 April 2015

Le pain perdu aux fruits du restaurant Le Galion

Photos are like baguettes (bread) around here right now — there are so many of them that it's hard to keep up. With photos, it's the new camera and the beautiful weather. That said, the weather has taken on a damp character now. We had rain at the middle of the day yesterday, then a nice sunny period in the afternoon, and finally a very hard downpour for several hours in the evening, with thunder and lightning.

With bread, I've made bread pudding twice in the space of a few days now. Why twice? Well, there was that much bread in the freezer that I thought needed using up.

The French term « pain perdu » can be used to mean either bread pudding or what we call "French toast".

When the bread lady came by on Saturday — wouldn't you know it? — she announced that she is going on vacation for 10 days starting on May 1. That means we'll get bread just twice more, Tuesday and Thursday, before the bread famine starts around here. We'll make cornbread, or buns for pulled pork sandwiches, or eat store-bought tortillas.

We'll survive. Why did I make bread pudding twice last week? Well, it's CHM's fault. In reaction to my first post about bread pudding, he sent me by e-mail a recipe for Pain perdu aux fruits that he got from a restaurant in Paris called Le Galion. It closed down years ago, and the building it was in was torn down and replace with a much more modern structure.

I remember going to the Galion for lunch just once, and I even remember what I ate that day. My mind and memory are like that. Food. Always food. It was 1998, in August. I was taking a year off work (Apple had laid me off in January when Steve Jobs closed down the company's Claris software subsidiary).

CHM was in France, and he was going to the town of Carteret in Normandy, where an old friend of his (and mine) has a house. I worked with Jeanine in Washington way back when, and the house in Carteret was her grandparent's place, if I remember. I flew over from San Francisco, rented a car, and drove up to visit CHM and Jeanine. I wanted to get to know Carteret, partly because I come from a place called Carteret County in North Carolina.

After spending a couple of days there, CHM and I drove back toward Paris, touring along the way, and spending a couple of nights in Rouen with old friends of mine there. Back in Paris, we went and had lunch at the Galion one day. It was August in Paris, when all the Parisians decamp for the countryside and the beaches. The city was very quiet, but the Galion — lucky for us — was open. For lunch, I had Saucisson chaud lyonnais, served with steamed potatoes and a vinaigrette sauce. I'm not sure why I would remember that except that it was very good and I hadn't had anything like that to eat in years.

Anyway on to the pain perdu. CHM says he had feasted on bread pudding at the Galion many times over the years. He pestered the restaurant staff for months or years for a recipe, and the owner of the place finally gave it to him one day. The head cook at the Galion was a woman from the African country of Togo who had trained in France as a pastry chef, so the pain perdu was professionally good. CHM sent me the recipe in the original French. Here's my translation of it, along with some photos of the different steps involved in making it.

Below is a photo of the Galion restaurant in Paris that CHM describes to me as "a daguerrotype of the digital age". He took it with a Kodak digital camera back in 1998. I didn't even yet have a digital camera at that time. Below that photo is one that I think dates from 1999. You can see progress in the image quality, and you can see what was about to happen to the poor Galion.

Pain perdu aux fruits, façon du Galion

Make a syrup using 250 milliliters of water and 100 grams of sugar. When the sugar has dissolved add some vanilla and some rum. Put the bread to soak in the sugar syrup.

(I used the raw, unrefined sugar called sucre roux or cassonade in France to make my syrup. I added about half a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a tablespoon each of rum and sweet white vermouth. I had the equivalent of 2 liters of loosely packed bread crumbs.)

Mix up 500 milliliters of milk with 150 grams of sugar and five whole eggs. Add in a little more vanilla and rum.

Butter a baking dish and sprinkle some sugar over the butter. Put the bread and the fruit in the dish and along with the milk and egg mixture.

(I mixed everything together in a big bowl before I poured the pudding into two good-sized baking dishes. The fruit I used was some plums from our neighbors' tree that I had put in the freezer last summer. Any fruit you like — raisins, blueberries, dried cranberries, cherries, pitted prunes, apples, pears — and the quantity you feel is appropriate will be good. The dish you see in my photos was CHM's grandmother's soufflé dish, which he kindly gave me a couple of years ago.)

Cook the bread pudding in a water bath in the oven for 45 minutes.

(I baked it in a 350ºF / 180ºC oven in the water bath you can see in my photos.)

Here's the recipe in French as CHM gave it to me:

Faire un sirop avec un quart de litre d'eau et 100 g de sucre.
Lorsque le sirop est fait, ajouter de la vanille et du rhum.
Mettre à tremper le pain dans le sirop.

Mélanger un demi-litre de lait avec 150 g de sucre et 5 œufs.
Ajouter la vanille et le rhum.

Beurrer un moule, saupoudrer le fond du moule avec un peu de sucre.
Mettre le pain dans le moule et mettre les fruits et
le mélange obtenu précédemment.

Faire cuire au bain-marie pendant 45 minutes.


  1. Wow! That looks lovely...
    thank you CHM...
    and I love CHM's description of that early digital pic as a "Daggy" of the digital age...
    it does have that look...
    almost sepia with some hand colouring!
    When I looked at it, I noticed that the Rnault camionette had stopped to allow the lady to cross...
    then I noticed that it was actually driverless and parked across the crossing!!

  2. I think that's a delivery zone there where the LWV is parked. There's a Franprix market right at that spot.

    1. I added a photo from 1999 to the post above to show what Le Galion's fate was.

    2. A shame... but that's the way of cities...
      a pub we used to frequent in Leeds, is now an isolated 'little' building, overshadowed by office towers...
      but, fortunately, it has been listed... so is safe under current laws!

  3. Thank you for the photo of the Galion's demise that I didn't know.

  4. Of course it's rainy. Elizabeth and I are in the process of moving stuff from Paris to Amboise by car. So I got thoroughly soaked yesterday loading it up. But that's another story. Anyway, thanks for posting that recipe, it looks fabulous. And thanks for the story about Le Galion. I see now there's a restaurant by that name in the 16th. Is this the Phoenix or just using the same name?

    1. As far as I can remember, the owner said they were retiring, somewhat, and going back to their province of origin. They might have changed their mind, though.

  5. chm, you are a card!

  6. I like Paris in August and I'm pretty sure that I would like this pan perdu as well.

  7. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    Your header photo is fabulous.

    Lovely photos and interesting write up..

    I enjoyed reading your post

    Best wishes

  8. Hello, I just discovered your amusing and informative blog while looking for what 'pork belly' is called in France, thank you for that and lo and behold I discovered that you, like us, moved to France in 2003. We live in the Luberon with our dog and cat. I am an Americaine and my husband is a Brit. Your experience purchasing an insert was also of interest since we are doing some repairs and had been a little confused about the taxes, francesca

  9. I grew up in the Southern USA and grandmothers call this Bread Pudding .. Pan Perdue sounds So much better ! and I did learn to make it .. I throw chocolate into mine ... chocolate is good , in my opinion, whenever and wherever you can add it :)
    I enjoy your blog so much. I can relate in so many ways, although you are in France and we were in Argentina and the bread is much better in Paris .. it is fun to read your blog. besitos, C


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