Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Baked Cinnamon French Toast

This is the perfect make-ahead breakfast or brunch when you're entertaining guests. No host wants to stand over a griddle making individual french toasts, pancakes, or waffles. This french toast can be made the night before, refrigerated, and then baked right before the guests arrive. You can also mix it up by adding different fruits. 

I admit that I almost passed this recipe up because I was worried that the bread would be soggy (and my family hates anything soggy), but you can bake the casserole to your desired level of dryness. If you like your french toast more on the custard side, then bake for 45 minutes. If you like your french toast on the drier side, then bake for 60 minutes. And how could I forget the best part...a thick layer of crunchy cinnamon topping. 

Baked Cinnamon French Toast
Serving size: 8 x 8 (double the recipe for 9 x 13)

French toast:
1/2 loaf of day-old French bread, cut into large cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Grease an 8 x 8 baking dish with butter. Place the bread cubes in the dish. In a large measuring cup, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla together. Pour over the bread, making sure to coat all the pieces. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt together. Cut the cold butter cubes into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your hands, until the butter is the size of peas. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. 

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°. Top the bread mixture evenly with the cinnamon streusel mixture. Bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes (depending on your desired level of dryness). Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with extra butter and maple syrup for topping.

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