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French Toast vs. Pancakes (Key Similarities and Differences)

French Toast vs. Pancakes (Key Similarities and Differences)
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We might argue that cheerful mornings are usually the ones that begin with a scrumptious treat. What could possibly be better than fluffy pancakes or creamy French toast?

These two warm desserts have won the hearts of many people and, according to history, have done so for a very long time, as you’ll see in a few.

Still, how much do these two dishes have in common? Well, that’s exactly what we’re about to explain in detail in our comparison of French toast vs. pancakes.

We’ll highlight all of their major similarities and differences, as well as reveal which one is the healthier option, so stay tuned!

How Is French Toast Similar to Pancakes?

French toast and pancakes are two dishes that stand out in the “dessert for breakfast” category. Other than the fact that they’re absolutely delish, they don’t have much in common.

That said, we’ve been able to pin down three similarities between French toast and pancakes, which are as follows:

1 – Main Ingredients

If you take a closer look at the ingredients in both French toast and pancakes, you’ll notice that they’re quite similar.

Naturally, each recipe will have a few ingredients more or less than the other since they’re prepared in completely different ways.

However, both desserts ultimately fall under the category of bread products and share key ingredients like:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Flour
  • Raising agent

2 – Cooking Style

The cooking method for these treats is relatively the same. In fact, the speed with which we can make French toast and pancakes is one of the things that made us fall in love with them.

They simply go on a greased frying pan and are flipped on both sides to reach that golden color. Then, after about four to five minutes, you’ll have a delightful treat ready to be devoured!

Neither recipe calls for baking unless you want to make the bread for the French toast from scratch.

3 – Toppings

Moving on to our favorite part, the toppings added to the French toast and pancakes.

Although the syrup and butter combo is the signature topping for both plates, there are a ton of other choices available.

The best part is that whatever goes on French toast also goes on pancakes, and here are some classic toppings that pair well with both:

  • Peanut butter with maple syrup
  • Chocolate chips
  • Whipped cream
  • Fresh fruit
  • Nutella

Not to mention how French toast and pancakes can also complement a savory breakfast. In that case, they’ll have toppings or sides like eggs and bacon.

What Are the Differences Between French Toast and Pancakes?

Now comes the heated comparison in which we reveal all of the key distinctions between French toast and pancakes:

1 – Origin

These two delectables come from very different historical backgrounds. Thus, we’ll take you on a quick tour of their origins:

French Toast Origin

Let’s start by dropping the first bombshell: French toast isn’t actually French! In fact, the French used to refer to this dessert as “Roman bread.”

They even now call it “Pain Perdu,” which translates to “lost bread,” since this recipe allowed them to use stale bread instead of throwing it away.

So, to clear up the confusion, Americans are the ones who gave that dish the name “French toast.”

The reason for this was that at the time, French immigrants living in America were the ones who popularized this dessert.

Nonetheless, the Romans are the people we can thank for that mouthwatering creation.

The first documented recipe for french toast dates back to 300 AD and was written in a cookbook by the Roman author Apicius.

Pancakes Origin

It’s hard to pinpoint when or who inspired the invention of pancakes. Yet, believe it or not, they’re thought to have existed 30,000 years ago during the Stone Age!

This belief was founded on examinations of starch grains from grinders in this era.

According to researchers, the flour they made back then out of cattails and ferns was mixed with water and cooked on a sizzling rock.

This suggests that the basic concept of making batter bread and then pan-frying, or in this case, rock-frying it, has been around for a long time.

Meanwhile, pancakes were first known to exist in writing in 600 BC. That was documented by an ancient Greek poet in one of his works where he described the warmth of pancakes.

Surprisingly, the origins of Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday can be traced back to 1100 AD.

For Christians, Shrove Tuesday is a traditional day of feasting before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.

Since they’re not supposed to eat dairy products during Lent, they made lots of pancakes to use up the stored products they already had. That’s how pancake day came about!

2 – Raising Agent

Since French toast is essentially bread, the only raising agent needed is the yeast used to make the bread.

Simply put, yeast is a single-celled living organism that feeds on the sugars in flour. It emits carbon dioxide along the way, which causes the bread to rise.

It’s also worth noting that it reacts at a much slower rate than chemical-based leavening agents such as baking powder.

On the other hand, baking powder serves as the raising agent in pancake batter. Unlike yeast, baking powder has a more immediate effect due to the chemicals in it.

When it’s dropped into a liquid batter or moist dough, it causes a reaction that creates carbon dioxide bubbles.

On a side note, British pancakes don’t contain a leavening agent in their recipe, which is why they’re more similar to French crepes.

3 – Sugar Content

The amount of sugar in French toast is entirely dependent on how the bread was made. To explain, some types of bread don’t contain sugar in their recipes.

In other cases, some people may add sugar to shorten the fermentation time and add a sweet flavor to the bread.

However, when making French toast, no sugar is added to the liquid mixture that we use to dip the bread in.

Contrarily, pancake recipes call for sugar. Sugar is one of the ingredients that contribute to the fluffiness and softness of pancakes.

What’s more, it’s what gives a pancake its golden color and crispy edges.

4 – Preparation

French toast preparation simply starts by combining liquid ingredients, primarily eggs, and milk.

Then, the bread can be left in its original shape, which is typically squared, or cut diagonally into two triangles. Finally, soak the bread in the mixture, and it’s ready to cook!

In the case of pancakes, the batter is made from scratch by combining both dry and liquid ingredients.

The dry ingredients are mostly flour, baking powder, and sugar, while the main liquid ingredients are milk, eggs, and butter.

When the batter is ready, some of it is scooped out and dropped into a frying pan to form a circle.

Here’s a fun fact: the world’s largest pancake was made in the UK in 1994, measuring 49 feet 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep!

5 – Final Taste and Texture

The final and most delicious aspect of this comparison is the taste and texture of both deserts.

French toast has an inner creamy texture, thanks to the dipping mixture used in preparing it. Yet, there’s a slight crunchiness on the outside layer.

Some people compare French toast to eating bread and butter pudding!

Compared to French toast, pancakes have a lighter and airier texture. They taste like you’re eating a sweet flat cake.

Which Is Healthier?

So far, nothing we’ve said about making French toast or pancakes sounds particularly healthy. They contain fatty ingredients, and their topping choices don’t make it any better.

Nonetheless, a small study was done to compare the nutritional data of restaurant French toast and the standard pancake stack.

It was discovered that one of them has 500 fewer calories than the other. Plus, it has 20 grams less sugar and 78% less saturated fat.

We arrived at the big reveal of whether French toast or pancakes is healthier, and the answer is pancakes!

Yet, don’t feel bad if you choose French toast over pancakes the next time. Just remember that it has 18 grams more protein and 3 grams more fiber than pancakes.

Which Is More Popular?

Although the difference is small, it was still proved that one of the two dishes is more popular than the other.

Mashed created a poll in order to find out what people’s favorite breakfast meal was. The alternatives given were:

  • Eggs
  • French Toast
  • Pancakes
  • Waffles

According to the responses of 45,000 people from all over the world, it turned out that pancakes are more popular than French toast.

Nonetheless, none of them are the most popular, as eggs took first place with 43% of the votes. Pancakes came in second with 18% of the votes, while French toast came in third with 16%.

Final Thoughts

You now know everything there’s to know about both treats after finishing this French toast vs. pancakes comparison.

If you’re a French toast fan but want to make it healthier, the toppings you choose can make all the difference.

Go for alternatives like pure nut butter, greek yogurt with berries, mashed banana, and so on.

We’ll say our goodbyes now that both of our hands are busy drenching French toast in maple syrup and peanut butter. We don’t want to make it healthier just yet!