02 April 2016

Need to make French toast for a crowd? I've got you covered! This is so much easier than the making the real deal in the skillet, but it has the same great flavor and texture.  The inside is perfectly soft and custardy, while the outside is delightfully crunchy.  

I needed a recipe for our church's Easter brunch potluck.  I was going to make my traditional Eggs Benedict Casserole, but we had a bunch of French bread leftover from our Lenten soup suppers and someone wondered if it could be used for a breakfast casserole on Easter.  Great idea!  My Eggs Benedict Casserole uses English muffins, so that was out.  I asked my fellow Penzeys fans on Facebook for a good baked French toast recipe and several of them recommended one from The Pioneer Woman.  It seemed super easy, which was what I needed because Easter weekend is totally crazy at my house (my husband is a pastor and I'm the church secretary).  This recipe was perfect and it was a big hit at the potluck.

French Toast Bake

1 loaf French bread (7-8 oz.)
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, divided
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, cold

Coat a 9x13” casserole dish with baking spray.  Cut the bread into 1” cubes and place in the casserole dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, ½ cup brown sugar, and vanilla.  Pour this mixture over the bread cubes.  Let it sit for a few minutes, then press down or flip over the bread cubes to make sure they are completely moistened by the egg mixture.  Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

In another bowl, combine the flour, remaining ½ cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter.  Refrigerate.

Remove the dish from the fridge.  Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover the casserole dish and sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the bread cubes.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the center is set.  Serve warm with syrup available for drizzling on top.

Makes 8 servings.

I actually made two of these because there were two loaves of French bread left in the freezer at church.  That was good because the first pan didn't last long on Easter morning.  I came home with about a third of the second pan left; just enough to reheat and snap a picture for this post!  I should have gotten a pic of the entire pan, because it was beautiful, but that didn't happen.  Easter morning in the church kitchen is a bit chaotic!

I really do love the Eggs Benedict Casserole, but it is kind of a pain making the Hollandaise sauce right before serving.  I think this French toast bake will probably be my new Easter brunch tradition.  

I got several compliments on this and was asked for the recipe, so that makes it a success in my book!  Give it a try the next time you have houseguests and want to treat them to something special in the morning.

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