Easter brunch is always a big deal. Whether it's lots of family, or a few friends hunting for eggs, there is always a lot of last minute rushing around. It's times like this when I think to myself: there has to be a better way to make breakfast for eight than cooking 8 batches of French toast one at a time. Enter French Toast Casserole. This simple baked French toast is perfect for an occasion where putting something into the oven is about all you have time for. Construct the whole thing the night before, then all you've got to do in the morning is preheat the oven and you're good to go.
In this version of baked French toast the bread is torn and not sliced, making it a little closer to a bread pudding than a true French toast (as if you need an excuse to eat dessert for breakfast). If you want to go traditional and have your French toast sliced, then by all means slice it and stack it in the casserole dish.
Want a complete meal? Throw a few sausages in a pan and serve them alongside this sweet casserole—there's nothing better than a breakfast sausage doused in maple syrup. If you feel the same way I do about maple syrup and sausage, I'd suggest cooking a pound of bulk breakfast sausage and tossing it with the bread before you pour over the egg mixture.
Note: This recipe is best when assembled the night before and baked the next morning (allowing time for the custard to soak into the bread). It can be baked the same day by preheating the oven to 350°F when you start assembling it and baking immediately after assembled.
- Yield:serves 8
- Active time: 15 minutes
- Total time:8 to 12 hours
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 loaf Italian bread (about 1 pound), roughly torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 pound cooked crumbled bulk breakfast sausage (optional)
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup maple syrup, divided
- 1/2 cups sliced almonds
Using 1 tablespoon butter, grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Toss bread with sausage (if using), then transfer to baking dish. Whisk together milk, eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Pour milk mixture over bread, pressing bread down into mixture with a wooden spoon to absorb.
Mix together remaining butter, sugar, and maple syrup then add almonds. Scatter almond mixture over bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, bake on the middle rack of a preheated 325°F oven until bread has begun to brown and almonds are toasted, about 35 minutes.