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My favorite meal, should you ask me, is brunch. I am not a morning person and am rarely hungry at 6:00 am when I get up to start my day. I need COFFEE once my feet hit the ground but it takes me a while to work up an appetite. By 10 or 11 in the morning, once I’ve gotten a few things off my checklist and exercised a bit, I crave good food. Frittata, blintz loaf, waffles…and now – French Toast Casserole.
My daughter often makes this for company when she hosts brunch at her house, and her family occasionally enjoys this for their “breakfast dinner” every Thursday night — translate that into some type of protein-laden breakfast food and chicken sausage or smoked fish. She had been raving about this casserole so I finally decided to try it. I had leftover challah and had to figure out something to feed my grandsons while they stayed at my house… so why not? The result? It’s a 10! I hope you think so too. And she claims this was a recipe I gave her, which could be true. I just do not remember.
Overnight French Toast Casserole
8-10 generous servings
- 1 loaf brioche or challah bread (1-1 ¼ lb)
- 5 eggs
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ cups sliced bananas, frozen berries, frozen chopped peaches or fresh stone fruit
- ½ stick salted butter, melted
- 4 tsp turbinado sugar
Cube bread into 1” pieces. (I used leftover challah but weighed it. Rachel always buys cheap-o challah from the supermarket. shhhhhhhh…) Arrange cubes of bread in a 9 x 13 casserole dish.
Mix eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon and pour mixture over the bread and squish it around with your hands. Cover the pan with Saran Wrap. After about ½ hour, turn the cubes around so they are all moistened. Keep covered in the fridge overnight.
In the morning, about an hour before you’re ready to serve, remove the Saran and let it warm up a bit. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, mix in fruit, and even out the top with your hands. Drizzle the melted butter on top and sprinkle evenly with turbinado sugar.
Bake uncovered at 375 for 40-45 minutes until bubbly and brown. Cut and serve like a bread pudding. Top with a swish of fresh maple syrup or fruit syrup if that sounds good to you.
Because this is barely sweet, I would consider calling this a Fruited Bread pudding DESSERT and serving it with a trail of caramel or butterscotch sauce on top. Here is an old but good formula should you want to make a sweet sweet caramel sauce:
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 heaping Tbs. flour
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients except vanilla and bring to a boil. Cook for three minutes until thick. Add vanilla and stir. Pour over warm pudding. Keeps one month in the fridge.
PS: I think this would look 100 times more appealing if I baked it in an oval enamel casserole dish or even if I made muffin tin sized servings. Just thinking ahead.