baked french toast recipe
Baked French Toast Casserole: A Delectable Morning Delight
Introduction: There’s something magical about waking up to the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla wafting through the air, signaling the start of a perfect morning. Baked French Toast Casserole is a delightful twist on the classic breakfast favorite, offering a convenient and scrumptious way to enjoy the flavors of French toast without the fuss of individual slices. This step-by-step guide will take you through the process of creating a heavenly Baked French Toast Casserole that will undoubtedly become a cherished dish in your breakfast repertoire.
- Bread: Begin with a sturdy loaf of bread, such as brioche or challah, cut into 1-inch cubes. Approximately 8 cups of cubed bread will be needed for this recipe.
- Eggs: You’ll need 6 large eggs to create the custard mixture that will infuse the bread with richness and flavor.
- Milk: Use 2 and 1/2 cups of whole milk to add creaminess to the custard. Whole milk provides the best balance of richness without being overly heavy.
- Heavy Cream: Introduce decadence with 1/2 cup of heavy cream, ensuring a luscious and velvety texture to the French toast.
- Granulated Sugar: Sweeten the custard with 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, providing the perfect level of sweetness without overpowering the dish.
- Vanilla Extract: Enhance the flavor profile with 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. This aromatic ingredient will add depth and warmth to the overall taste.
- Ground Cinnamon: Spice things up with 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, infusing the custard with a hint of warmth and a touch of nostalgia.
- Salt: Add a pinch of salt to balance the sweetness and enhance the overall flavor.
- Butter: Grease the baking dish with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to prevent sticking and to contribute a subtle buttery richness to the casserole.
- Maple Syrup (Optional): For serving, have some maple syrup on hand to drizzle over individual portions. This step is optional but highly recommended for an extra indulgent touch.
- Baking Dish: Select a 9×13 inch baking dish to ensure the casserole cooks evenly and has the perfect balance of custard-soaked bread and golden edges.
- Mixing Bowls: Have two mixing bowls ready – one for the custard mixture and one for tossing the bread cubes.
- Whisk: A whisk is essential for combining the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt into a smooth and well-incorporated custard.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are crucial for achieving the right balance of flavors, so have measuring cups and spoons on hand.
- Knife and Cutting Board: Use a sharp knife and cutting board to cube the bread into bite-sized pieces.
- Aluminum Foil: Cover the casserole with aluminum foil during baking to prevent excessive browning and ensure the custard sets evenly.
Step 1: Preheat the Oven Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). This temperature ensures a slow and even bake, allowing the custard to penetrate the bread cubes thoroughly.
Step 2: Prepare the Baking Dish Grease the 9×13 inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, ensuring an even coating on the bottom and sides. This step prevents the French toast from sticking to the dish.
Step 3: Cube the Bread Take the loaf of bread and cut it into 1-inch cubes using a sharp knife and cutting board. Aim for approximately 8 cups of cubed bread, ensuring uniform pieces for even soaking.
Step 4: Arrange Bread in the Baking Dish Place the cubed bread evenly in the prepared baking dish, creating a layer that covers the bottom of the dish.
Step 5: Prepare the Custard Mixture In a large mixing bowl, crack 6 large eggs and whisk them until well beaten. Add 2 and 1/2 cups of whole milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of salt to the beaten eggs. Whisk the mixture thoroughly until all ingredients are well incorporated.
Step 6: Pour Custard Over Bread Carefully pour the custard mixture over the cubed bread in the baking dish, ensuring that all pieces are evenly coated. Use a spatula or spoon to gently press down on the bread, helping it absorb the custard.
Step 7: Let it Soak Allow the bread to soak in the custard mixture for at least 15-20 minutes. This soaking time ensures that the bread absorbs the rich flavors of the custard, resulting in a moist and flavorful casserole.
Step 8: Bake Covered Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning. Bake the French toast casserole in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
Step 9: Uncover and Continue Baking After the initial baking period, remove the aluminum foil and continue baking for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden brown, and the custard is set. The uncovered baking time allows the casserole to develop a delightful crust while maintaining a tender interior.
Step 10: Check for Doneness To ensure the French toast casserole is fully cooked, insert a knife or toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean, with no custard clinging to it, the casserole is ready.
Step 11: Rest and Serve Once fully baked, let the casserole rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the custard to set further, making it easier to slice into neat portions.
Step 12: Optional Maple Syrup Drizzle For an extra touch of sweetness, serve the Baked French Toast Casserole with a drizzle of maple syrup. This step is optional, as the casserole is delicious on its own, but the syrup adds a delightful layer of flavor.
Conclusion: Indulge in the heavenly flavors of this Baked French Toast Casserole, a perfect blend of custard-soaked bread with a golden, slightly crisp exterior. This make-ahead dish is not only a feast for the senses but also a time-saving solution for busy mornings. Share the joy of a delightful breakfast with family and friends, and savor the satisfaction of creating a memorable dish that will become a cherished tradition in your home.