Rise and fry: Touton recipe

Drew Shannon

Even though our little cottage is in Ontario, on a craggy cliff overlooking Kawagama Lake, it’s stuffed with Maritimethemed bric-a-brac: an anchor from a lobster fishing boat, crabs fashioned out of wicker, oven mitts in Cape Breton tartan, a shelf of Lucy Maud Montgomery, and a proud puffin in a snow globe. When the temperature drops, we zip into East Coast Lifestyle hoodies. That’s what happens when you marry a Nova Scotian. I found many excuses to use those tartan oven mitts these last few years. In 2020, when our offices and our son Sam’s kindergarten went virtual, our cottage became home. The surrounding forest, with its nodding ferns, darting salamanders, and fluorescent orange fungi, made an excellent schoolyard. And with no commute, I found the extra time to work on writing a cookbook.

When I was Sam’s age, my mom surprised me one morning by inviting me to crack the eggs for our omelette. It felt like being let into a secret world. For this cookbook, I challenged myself to cook breakfast at the cottage every Sunday with Sam’s help, for a full year, and then write about it. We’d start easy, with toast soldiers, and, as he grew more confident at measuring ingredients and flipping French toast, we’d work up to more technically adventurous, multi-step recipes. Nothing too complicated, since he is a kid, but mainly because mornings aren’t

the time for that. As the weeks clicked by, I discovered two things: Sam was a natural at cracking eggs, and I looked forward to our dedicated Sunday morning time together. It was our break from all the chores and mess of the week. And we even picked up some unexpected skills—every time a storm knocked out the lake’s power, we got very good at griddling pancakes on a cast iron pan over the barbecue.

One of Sam’s all-time favourite Sunday recipes was introduced to us by his Cape Breton grandmother—his nan. Toutons, a fried bread with molasses, aren’t usually found on menus outside of Newfoundland unless you’re in North Sydney, N.S., where they see a lot of traffic from the Argentia and Port aux Basques ferries. The dough needs time to rise, so this recipe is ideal for early risers, which pretty much describes anyone with young kids (it doesn’t really work to prepare the dough the night before). Kids always like toutons—they’re a close cousin of doughnuts, so what’s not to like?

They should be served hot from the frying pan. And while it can seem like Newfoundlanders drizzle molasses on everything, it makes extra sense with toutons, which, in the standard recipes, are fried in pork fat. The sweetness and saltiness balance out. Making toutons at the cottage, I’ve opted to fry them in butter and oil—which creates less of a mess and is arguably healthier— and I serve them with fresh jam instead of molasses. (I recommend wild blueberry jam, which is ubiquitous in Nova Scotia.) That said, you should try them at least once with molasses for the full East Coast experience. Also, I don’t know why, but they taste even better if the cook wears tartan oven mitts.

Toutons with blueberry jam

Mark Pupo
Part pancake, part biscuit, all delicious. The touton is an East Coast breakfast staple that’s as flavourful as it is simple.
No ratings yet
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine Acadian
Servings 2 dozen toutons, 2 cups jam


For the toutons

  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
  • 3 tbsp butter, plus more for serving with the toutons

For the jam

  • 2 cups wild blueberries
  • ½ cup honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • Start by preparing the dough. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk to 110°F (if you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, heat until you can dip a finger in for a few seconds without scalding yourself).
  • Stir the yeast, milk, and sugar in a large bowl until dissolved, then cover and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Add the shortening and salt and mix until combined.
  • Gradually add the flour, cup by cup, bringing it together in the bowl with your hands until it forms a dough. (If you have a stand mixer, this is when you can use a dough hook.) Tip onto the counter and knead for another couple of minutes until the dough becomes elastic.
  • Place the dough in a bowl lightly coated with oil. Cover and let rest in a warm spot for a couple of hours, until the dough doubles in size.
  • To make the jam, combine the blueberries, honey, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Crush the blueberries with the back of a spoon—this will speed things up. Cook on medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the jam starts to thicken. Let cool.
  • When you’re ready to fry the toutons, heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Punch the dough down in the bowl. Pull off chunks (about ½cup each), flatten them between your hands into a rough puck shape, and place in the pan, leaving an inch between each touton. Flip the toutons as they begin to firm up, until both sides are golden brown and they’re cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve warm with jam.


Tip: Frozen wild blueberries are just as good as fresh ones for making jam. 
Keyword baking
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Excerpted from Sundays: A Celebration of Breakfast and Family in 52 Essential Recipes by Mark Pupo. 

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Cottage Life.

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