09 May 2012

French Toast Casserole

French Toast in the garden.

My dad was in town this weekend (our third straight week of visitors running!) and we wanted to get a somewhat early start on Saturday.  It was a gorgeous day, and we were headed down to Santa Cruz to visit my dad’s cousin.  Since there would be five of us eating, I didn’t want to be making breakfast until 10:30 in the morning.

I’ve had French toast for brunch the past three weekends.  (I know, poor me.)  I was ready to try something different when I came across this French toast casserole recipe on Smitten Kitchen.  Both the photographs and the idea that I could make it in advance were tantalizing.
My dad, brother and I at the ballgame on Friday night.
I was a little bit skeptical that I could soak the bread overnight and it would not fall apart.  But I made it the previous day at 5:00 pm and didn’t cook it until 9:00 am the next morning, and it not only held its shape, was flavorful and rich.  Noah commented that he had been really hoping it wouldn’t be better than his French toast recipe, but it was.

I made a few changes to this recipe, mostly to make it a little healthier.  You can check out the original recipe and very detailed instructions on Smitten Kitchen.  My revised version is below:

1 loaf of whole wheat bread (preferably unsliced, you should end up with about 14-18 pieces once you cut it)
~1/3 cup brown sugar
~1 tablespoon cinnamon
~½ stick  (4 TBL) of butter
3 cups of whole milk
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
(Note: I was in a bit of a hurry when making this so didn’t measure out all of the ingredients.)

  1.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Combine 1 TBL of cinnamon with the 1/3 cup of brown sugar. 
  2. Slice the bread, spread a bit of butter on each slice and sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
  3. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until the butter is melted and the bread a bit crispy.  This took me about 8 minutes.
  4. While the bread is toasting, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, 1 tsp of cinnamon, and 1 tsp of nutmeg in a bowl.  Whisk until well blended. 
  5. Lightly butter a casserole dish.  (I used an 8X13 dish.)  Layer the bread in the dish.  You will have many overlapping pieces. 
  6. Pour the liquid over the bread, and either bake immediately or cover and refrigerate. 
  7. Once ready to cook. Bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes.
Full moon on the water in Santa Cruz.

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