Touton is a specifically regional kind of fried bread product, popular in areas of Northern Canada. Similar recipes are enjoyed in different cultures and parts of the world under different names. This food is often described as a kind of flat bread disc or pancake that is pan fried.
Traditional recipes for Touton come from the area around Newfoundland, Canada. These recipes often call for salt pork, which is used for the fat that the bread is fried in. Although conventional recipes often use pork fat, others can use butter, margarine, or oil, the usual substitutes for meat fat that can make a dish less high in total fat content.
In more than a few recipes, the bread that is used is made with white flour and rises in the conventional way. That makes touton a dish that relies on a lengthy process. Fewer of today’s families bake their own bread, and instead make this Newfoundland fry-bread from pre-made doughs from stores.
Some liken the Newfoundland touton to a pancake, while others think that it looks more like a Danish. Some cooks may garnish the top of the item with items like white frosting, butter, or marmalade. Some modern cooks take the appeal of the touton a bit further and use the fried bread, with its uniquely crispy outside and chewy interior, for other kinds of savory dishes, like egg and bacon, or egg and tomato sandwiches.
Although the touton is unique to Newfoundland, fried bread is not exclusive to this area. Recipes for “fry bread,” which are similar in some ways, have come to Americans from the recipes of Native North American tribes. Other cultures might enjoy this same kind of food in different ways, without noticing that it is popular in more than one cultural cuisine. For example, in some Russian and Eastern European areas, a touton-like fried bread is popular dipped or dunked in milk or cream.
It’s also interesting to distinguish the touton, the small fried bread pancake, with the similar sounding "crouton", a smaller bit of bread that is crisped for salads. Both of these include similar elements and a French etymology. Within the general context of baked goods cooking, the Newfoundland version of fried bread has its own niche as a Canadian favorite.