My Russian French toast recipe makes grenki (Гренки) just like my Russian-Ukrainian grandmother and mother made. This Russian take on French toast is easy to make, with just a handful of ingredients. Eaten for breakfast, brunch or dessert, you can serve grenki sweet, with sugar, honey, golden or maple syrup, sour cream, fruit jam or berries – or savoury with sausages, bacon and tomatoes or smoked salmon. Just don’t forget the dill!
My Russian French toast recipe will make you the grenki that my Russian baboushka and mother made me for breakfast as a child. This is a very traditional French toast recipe aimed at those of you keen to recreate the Russian breakfasts or Ukrainian breakfasts of your childhoods, rather than those looking for trending French toast recipes such as a croissant French toast bake, brioche French toast, panettone French toast, or coconut-almond French toast casserole, which is a thing right now apparently.
Well, I’m keeping things very traditional here because – if you’ve just arrived for the first time or you’re a regular reader dropping by – I’ve been recreating and documenting my Russian family recipes this month, so, no, we haven’t pivoted to a Russian food blog, but there has been a Russian takeover of sorts.
We took a break from testing Cambodian recipes for our cookbook over the Christmas-New Year holiday, which is when I usually cook Russian food and channel my ancestors, reminiscing while I’m rolling out dough for pelmeni and vareneki. Only this year we decided to fine-tune, photograph and share our Russian recipes here. As I’m writing a proposal for a Russian-Australian cookbook and memoir, I thought the cooking would help me recall fond food memories and it has.
If you’ve cooked any of our Russian recipes for dishes such as my baboushka’s stuffed cabbage rolls, beetroot potato salad, savoury pirozhki (Russian hand pies), Russian kotleti (chicken meat patties), Russian potato vareniki (or Ukrainian varynyky), Russian pelmeni (or Ukrainian pelmeni), or pan-fried Russian dumplings, can we ask a favour?
If you’ve made these Russian dishes or any of our recipes from Cambodia and beyond and have enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo so that we can keep creating recipes and food content. Click through to this post for ways to support Grantourismo such as shopping at our online Society6 store where we have everything from gifts for street food fans produced from Terence’s mouthwatering photographs to fun reusable cloth face masks for food lovers.
You can also become a patron or make a one-off donation to our epic first-of-its-kind Cambodian culinary history and cookbook on Patreon or purchase something on Amazon, such as one of these James Beard 2020 award-winning cookbooks, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, cookbooks for foodie travellers, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers. Now let me tell you about my Russian French toast recipe for grenki.
Russian French Toast Recipe for Grenki Just Like My Russian Grandma Made
My classic Russian French toast recipe for grenki (Гренки) makes the basic French toast that my baboushka made for me for breakfast – although this Russian French toast breakfast could also be served for brunch or lunch or dessert, as either a sweet or savoury dish. An easy French toast recipe, as far as I’m concerned this is also the best French toast recipe.
Essentially, grenki is the Russian take on French toast and not only is it incredibly easy to make, with only a handful of ingredients, it’s versatile. You could make this traditional Russian French toast recipe for breakfast, brunch or dessert as a sweet French toast, with sugar honey, golden syrup or maple syrup, or sour cream and stewed berries or fruit jam.
Or you can make a savoury Russian French toast, serving it as an accompaniment to smoked salmon topped with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with fresh aromatic dill, or as a side to a grilled breakfast of sausages, ham and tomatoes.
When my papa sat down at the big oak dining table for his breakfast of black bread, a boiled egg, a sweet juicy tomato, and crunchy radishes and cucumbers that he’d just picked from his backyard vegetable garden – all washed down with a shot or two of home-made vodka, of course – my baboushka insisted I sit down too and served me the breakfast she’d made for me.
My traditional Russian breakfast couldn’t have been more different to that of my papa’s and I’m not sure if it was because I was a skinny kid and baba wanted to fatten me up – she was always insisting I eat more – or whether she just enjoyed cooking for me or making the comforting sweet breakfast dishes that she loved.
On cold winter mornings, it would always be a big bowl of steaming hot porridge, drowning in warm milk, with dollops of butter and brown sugar at the centre of the bowl. At other times of the year, it would be blini – not the tiny pikelets that you know that come with sour cream and caviar, but rather French-style crepes, and it would be a towering stack of the things – and there would also be grenki.
Do let us know if you make our Russian French toast recipe for grenki. As far as I’m concerned this is the best way to make French toast. I’d love to know what you think.
Russian French Toast Recipe for Grenki
- 4 eggs
- 1 tsp sugar
- pinch of salt
- ½ cup milk
- 6-8 slices white bread
- neutral cooking oil
- Beat the eggs, salt and sugar with a fork until combined. If you are making savoury grenki, leave the sugar out. Add the milk and beat again until combined.
- In a small frying pan, heat enough cooking oil to generously cover the pan.
- Dip a slice of bread in the egg-milk mixture in a deep plate or container large enough so that you can lay the bread down completely flat – 30 seconds a side is enough – as you want the bread to soak up the egg-milk mixture, but you don’t want it to go mushy. Use your fingers, as tongs can leave marks on the bread and therefore also the toast.
- Using a wide spatula or fish slice, lift the slice of bread out of the egg-milk mixture and slide it into the frying pan. Fry the bread on medium heat, first on one side, then on the other until it’s golden brown, then remove. Repeat until you’ve fried all the bread.
- For a sweet breakfast or dessert, serve grenki with sugar and honey or golden syrup, or sour cream and fruit jam or berries. For a savoury breakfast or brunch, serve grenki with sour cream or fresh dill, smoked salmon, tomatoes, sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper, grilled cheese and ham, or alongside sausages or bacon.
Do let us know if you made our Russian French toast recipe for grenki just like my Russian grandmother made, in the comments below, by email or on social media, as we’d love to know how it turned out for you.