Armer Ritter

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Arme Ritter literally means “Poor Knight” in German and if you put into a translator “Armer Ritter” then it returns “French Toast”.

This is a German Style French Toast. What makes it German and why have we chose this for our dish today at the Food History Café?

This dish goes way back to medieval times when there were Knights, Gentry (wealthy land owners) and commoners. The knights were also considered Gentry which had a tradition, to always have a desert when entertaining for dinner. The Knights however were not always rich, so being inventive turned stale bread, eggs and jam, into a nice dessert dish. They didn’t fool anyone apparently as it was sarcastically called, “Poor Knights of Windsor”, and similar in other European countries except for France where it is called Pain Perdu meaning “Lost Bread”.

The first mention of Armer Ritter comes in an old and very famous German Cookbook from the 14th century called ” Ein Buch von guter spise 

Which means something like “The Book of Good Food” . The link is a great copy with both German and the Translation right under it. Number 24 is called, Daz ist auch gut (This is also good) and is an interesting dish also with bread, milk and eggs. It is fun to look at these recipes and get a feel of how cooking was done back 6 centuries ago.

More about this book here

Gingerbread house

Another interesting Trivia point is the Brother’s Grimm (Hansel and Gretel authors),

put Armer Ritter in the German Dictionary they wrote (yes besides their tales they published a dictionary) quoting from the Ein Buch von guter spise cook book. More about that here.

For a more complete history of French Toast go to my Food History Site here.

This recipe is adapted from the DDR museum website
They soak the bread in the milk first then dip it into the egg which you find this technique in a lot of German recipes to bring stale bread to life as a binder or for dumplings to mention a few. They also put lemon zest into the batter, but I didn’t this time, as I put lemon zest in the Stollen I used.

Making Armer Ritter is not much different than making French Toast except this particular German recipe calls for breading it in bread crumbs. 2 things old German house holds had were stale bread and bread crumbs. Nothing was wasted.

Ingredients, Armer Ritter

serves 2
4 Slices of stale bread (in this case I used Stollen )
1 cup bread crumbs or cake crumbs
1 teaspoon sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
Note: an option is to grate a bit of lemon peel into the batter like a quarter of a teaspoon.
Optional garnishes;
Fresh fruit salad
vanilla Sauce

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Dip bread for Armer Ritter

Depending on how stale your bread is let it soak till it is fully saturated and then carefully lift out ……

Bread crumbs

Place it on a plate with the bread crumbs, and then flip to coat lightly.
If they are savory bread crumbs you can add a bit of sugar to sweeten.

Frying Armer Ritter

Then and place in a skillet heated with 2 tablespoons butter and cook it on medium heat until it is browned nicely on both sides.

Finished toast

I served this with a vanilla sauce which is 1 cup yogurt or sour cream thin down with a bit of milk or water, vanilla extract, and sweetened with honey, sugar or stevia, then added some fresh fruit salad.

Last Modified on January 27, 2019
this article Armer Ritter