Thursday, March 17, 2011

Brunch - French Toast Casserole

I am a huge fan of brunch. You get the best of any meal. Sweet, savory, or any combination of the two is allowed. I make brunch every year on Christmas morning. The last few years I made french toast and ended up standing over the stove all morning flipping the bread. This year I decided to do something different. I found a recipe for a french toast casserole on the internet and added my own touches. To reference the original recipe go to http://www.tammysrecipes.com/overnight_challah_french_toast. Below is how I changed the recipe to add more spices and use heavy cream instead of milk. If you want to make it a little healthier you can use low fat milk but I think the heavy cream gives it much more flavor.

Recipe:
1/2 of a large loaf of challah cut into about 1 inch square blocks (You should have enough chucks to fill a 9x13 inch baking dish about 3/4 full)
5 eggs
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
3 cups heavy cream

3 cups of fresh or frozen berries, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used frozen strawberries)

For Topping:
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup quick oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, softened

To Make:
1) Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish (I use butter but a cooking spray would work also). Add the chunks of challah in a layer (the dish should be at least 3/4 full).














2) In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices. Add the heavy cream and whisk well. Pour over the bread and make sure all the bread is wet. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.

















3) Combine all the ingredients for the topping and using a fork cut together until coarse crumbs are formed. Cover the bowl or place in a ziplock back and place in refrigerator till morning. You can also make the crumbs in the morning.

4) In the morning, preheat oven to 375F (350F for glass dish)


5) Stir the bread mixture and smooth out into a layer on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle the fruit over the top and sprinkle the topping over the fruit.


















6) Bake for about 55-60 minutes, until the center is set


This dish was so easy to make and I could make it the night before. I am not a morning person so it was nice to not have to get up at the crack of dawn to get everything done. It also gave me plenty of burner space to cook the sausage and bacon. This casserole makes a wonderful leftover which can either be heated up or served cold. I think it is sweet enough not to need any syrup but my sister liked it with maple syrup.

LESSONS LEARNED:
1) Prep everything the night before then you don't have to be rushed in the morning
2) Make sure that you get all the bread covered with the egg mixture before you place it in the refrigerator overnight. The bread will absorb some of the mixture but some areas will be dry if you didn't get it wet before hand.
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