Friday, December 24, 2010

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole
A fantastic and tasty sweet breakfast casserole that you throw together the night before and then just slide into the oven in the morning.

Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

Overnight French Toast Casserole is one way to get a delicious and well loved breakfast favorite prepared for a crowd and quickly on Christmas morning or New Year's Day. Those are two of the rare occasions where I can actually manage to remember to prep a breakfast casserole the night before.

Put it together the night before, pop it in the oven the next morning, and it's ready in about 45 minutes - just enough time to let everybody rip into their Christmas gifts, or to tame that morning after headache with a dose or two of caffeine while waiting on breakfast on New Years Day.

Managed to forget to put this together the night before? I totally understand, trust me.  But, if you get up early enough, and if you have young children waiting on Santa, you will... you can still throw this together and let it rest in the fridge for just a few hours with great results.  If you love Pain Perdu or good ole basic French toast from sliced bread, I think you'll enjoy this oven version. It has all of the typical flavor you find in your pan-fried version, except in an easy oven casserole form that you can stick in the oven and enjoy the festivities without any tending. Here's how to make it.

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Recipe: Overnight Baked French Toast Casserole

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 15 min |Cook time: 45 min | Yield: About 8 to 12 servings

  • Double batch of cinnamon sugar
  • 1 long loaf of French bread (like Reisings)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of packed light brown sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup of heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 chopped pecans
  • Warmed pure cane, maple, sorghum or fruit syrup
  • Sifted powdered sugar

Make a double or triple batch of cinnamon sugar. Slice French bread into thick slices, about 1 to 1-1/2 inch thick. You'll want enough to layer the baking dish twice. Melt the butter and pour it into the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with half of the brown sugar and sprinkle the brown sugar generously with cinnamon sugar. Lay one layer of the French bread slices on top of the cinnamon sugar/butter mixture. Whisk together the eggs, with the cream, half and half, vanilla extract and salt. Drizzle half of the egg mixture (about 2 cups) over and around the layer of bread. Sprinkle the top of the bread with the other half of the brown sugar and more cinnamon sugar.

Add the remaining French bread slices in another layer, and press them down into the dish with the palm of your hand. Drizzle the remaining egg mixture on top and around the slices. Sprinkle the top very generously with more cinnamon sugar.  Scatter about 1/2 cup of chopped pecans all over the top and cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, bring the baking dish to room temperature while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake, covered, for about 35 minutes; uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until firmed up and slightly crispy on top. If you prefer it with a lot more crunch, bake it uncovered the entire 45 minutes. Let rest for just a minute or so, then sift the top with powdered sugar. Cut into squares and drizzle top with warmed, pure cane syrup, maple syrup, or a fruit syrup over the top of individual squares if desired. Serve hot.

Southern skillet fried apples are especially great as a side for this casserole.

Cook's Notes: I used the long 10 ounce loaf of Reising's New Orleans Po'boy bread, which is an extra long, thinner loaf than most typical deli style French breads. If you have other leftover sandwich bread, Texas toast, homemade yeast bread, brioche, or challah, certainly make substitutions with those.

Crockpot French Toast Casserole: One of our Facebook readers, Janine stuck this in her crockpot Christmas Eve and said it turned out perfect! She used a 4-quart round crockpot and made 3 layers instead of 2, so the number of layers would depend on the size of your crockpot and the type of bread you use also. She turned it on right before bed and let it cook overnight for about 6-1/2 to 7 hours on low. All instructions are the same, except you'll need to butter the walls of the crockpot before starting to layer in. Thanks Janine!


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