Hong Kong style French Toast is a twist on the classic breakfast dish. Think of your standard fabulous French toast, except in sandwich form, stuffed with delicious peanut butter (or strawberry jam, or Nutella!), and a little condensed milk drizzled on top. OH. EM. GOODNESSGRACIOUSME. You’re going to love me for this one, bestie.
I was first introduced to this indulgent breakfast recipe during a late-night conversation with an old boarding school friend (who, surprise surprise, was from Hong Kong). There we were, two guys from across the world, sat up watching kung fu movies, while we should have been fast asleep the night before our A-Level economics exam.
Out of the blue he paused the movie, and said, “You know what I want, Riz?”
“Abs? And Cindy from psychology to notice you?”
“No! I mean, yes. But what I really want right now is…French toast.” There was a sparkle in his eye; it reminded me of the first time he told me he was going to teach me to introduce myself in Cantonese (you know, so I could be cute and charming when I plucked up the courage to say hi to the pretty Asian girl who had once smiled at me as we walked past one another in the school corridor).
“French toast?” Strange. We had French toast as an option just earlier that morning for breakfast, and he had refused it.
“No, no, no” he said, “Hong Kong-style French toast.” There was something about the way he said it, the world ‘style’ elongated; enunciated, as if bolstered by memories; and a surety, that made me curious. Based on his instructions, we attempted to make it a few days later.
It. Was. Glorious.
Sure, the toast was a little burnt. And we didn’t have any condensed milk. But it still tasted great. I’ve finally actually learnt how to make it properly, and I’m sharing it here with you today.
(In case you’re wondering. He did not teach me how to introduce myself in Cantonese. He taught me how to say something that shouldn’t be repeated on a nice wholesome food blog such as this one, while telling me that he had taught me how to introduce myself.)
(To the pretty Asian girl, this is a little late…but I apologise. I didn’t know what I was saying (literally). And I’m sure your family are wonderful people.)
What is Hong Kong-style French toast?
You can think of Hong Kong-style French toast like regular French toast…on steroids – a deep fried, milky, egg-battered sandwich, stuffed generously with peanut butter/jam, and topped with sweetened condensed milk. It’s everything you could want for sweet indulgent brunch.
Hong Kong-style French toast is a speciality of Hong Kong’s cha chaan tengs (these are Hong Kong’s many street cafes that often combine Hong Kong and western cuisines to create some wonderful dishes. Cha chaan teng translates literally to “tea restaurant”).
And if you’d prefer to experience this recipe on YouTube, check out my Hong Kong French Toast recipe video.
What does it taste like?
Crispy on the outside, custard-y on the inside, and full of whatever spread you’ve chosen. The condensed milk adds sweetness from the moment you bite into it.
Tips to make the best Hong Kong-style French toast
Generally a lot of the tips to making great (regular) French toast will apply here too. Let’s go through them quickly:
Picking the right bread
Arguably the most crucial element of French toast is making sure you have the right kind of bread: something that’ll soak up the custard to create a creamy inside, and a crispy outside…without just falling to pieces. You’ll want a thick cut bread such as milk bread, challah, or brioche.
How thick should the bread be? Depending on how deep your frying pan is, ideally a half-inch to one-inch thick slices.
Ideally, whatever bread you use should be slightly stale. Nothing crazy, you don’t want to use a biscuit that may or may not have been a slice of bread in a former life. Just standard day-old bread will do.
Don’t oversoak or under-soak each slice
It can be a bit finicky getting this step right (especially if you’re not a regular French toaster). Oversoak your bread and you can run into two problems. First, your bread may start to fall apart. And second, you won’t have enough custard left for your other slices!
Under-soak, and you’ll have a different problem – your final dish will be missing that heavenly custardy centre that’s made French toast a brunch favourite.
Mix the custard properly
It’s important mix the custard thoroughly…unless you want pieces of egg white gracing the top of your Hong Kong French toast. (If you’re feeling a little extra, you can go as far as straining the custard.)
Easy flavour variations
Given the nature of this breakfast, it’s easy to switch it up (or customise it for each mouth that needs feeding). Let’s go through some of my favourite options. I’ve actually included the first three options in my photos, as well as in the recipe video, so you can get a visual. I’m good like that.
- Peanut butter – the classic flavour, you can go smooth or crunchy, but you can never go wrong with this option…unless you have a nut allergy. In which case, please safely enjoy one of the nut-free options below, bestie.
- Strawberry jam (or any jam, really) – Strawberry jam is my jam. It’s delicious. It’s my personal favourite. And if you’re feeling a little cheeky, go ahead and mix in a little peanut butter for some PB+J Hong Kong style French toast action.
- Nutella – …or any other delicious chocolate spread. (This is so good. It’s basically dessert for breakfast.)
- Condensed milk & peanut butter filling – Spread one side of the bread with peanut butter, and condensed milk on the other. Cook it up, and top it off with more condensed milk or some golden syrup.
- Coconut Jam – I believe this is one of the more traditional options in Hong Kong, though I’ve never actually tried it myself!
- If you really enjoy that classic French toast flavour, consider adding some whole milk, a little vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon to your custard.
I used condensed milk for this recipe, however you can easily switch it out or combine with other sweet drizzles such as honey, golden syrup, or maple syrup. I know of a couple of Hong Kong style cafes here in Toronto that warm up a few tablespoons of peanut butter to create a drizzle.
How to store Hong Kong-style French toast
While best eaten fresh, you can store your deliciously golden brown HK French toast in an airtight container for 1-2 days. Make sure to not drizzle on any condensed milk until just before you’re ready to eat. When it’s time to eat, pop it into the microwave for 20-30 seconds – please be mindful of how hot the filling gets. I don’t want you burning your tongue!
More French toast recipes to check out
- Perfect French Toast
- Nutella & Dark Chocolate Stuffed French Toast
- S’mores French Toast
- Strawberry Cream Cheese French Toast Bake
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Rejoice! No fancy equipment required for this recipe.
So…Hong Kong-style French toast. What do you think of it? Have you tried it before? Or will you be making it this weekend? Let me know in the comments below!
Also, if you’re able to teach me how to introduce myself in Cantonese, I would appreciate it.Buy me a coffee Print