November 24, 2009

‘Twas the Night Before… French Toast {Webisode #2}

'Twas the Night Before...French Toast Feeding a crowd shouldn’t be difficult, especially during the holiday season. At this time of year I don’t fuss around with complicated recipes, instead I concentrate on making meals that are easy to prepare ahead – even days ahead – and don’t require constant attention. This casserole, which I’ve aptly titled “‘Twas the Night Before… French Toast” is just the ticket when it comes to feeding a crowd for brunch.

My husband’s Aunt Barbara (wife of the famous Uncle Kevin), gave me this recipe when I was showing signs of anxiety regarding an impending visit from loads of family members. She rightly noted that this casserole is absolutely mouthwatering – she has yet to have a guest turn it down – and is the simplest way to get a fabulous breakfast on the table with minimal stress. To complete the brunch table I set out a big platter of crisp salty bacon, jugs of warm maple syrup, juice and caffeinated beverages. Inevitably this turns my dining room table into a schmorgesborg of deliciousness that never fails to please even the pickiest of eaters.

This dish is a cinch to pull together a day prior – I complete the legwork during my daughter’s afternoon naptime the day before – then it just sits, unattended, in the refrigerator until it is baked the following morning. For all you Naptime Chef’s out there, it is important to note that it is perfectly acceptable to prepare this at 3pm one day and not bake it until 7am the following morning, I do it all the time. As exemplified below, this dish is intended to be made in advanced, doing so allows the bread to absorb more liquid and achieve maximum flavor.

Since this casserole truly is as beautiful and tasty as it sounds, I’ve made another video for your viewing pleasure. I hope this demonstrates how fantastically easy this casserole is to make, and what a wonderful solution it can be to feeding hungry mouths in your household (either visiting, or permanent residents) over the holidays. Enjoy!


The Naptime Chef – ‘Twas the Night Before…French Toast from Kelsey Banfield on Vimeo.

Recipe

‘Twas the Night Before… French Toast

loosely adapted from Paula’s Home Cooking by Paula Deen

Ingredients

1 large loaf Challah bread, preferably 1-2 days old so it is slightly hard
8 large eggs
2 c. whole milk
1 c. heavy cream
2 T. granulated sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. freshly grated orange zest
½ t. ground cinnamon
½ t. freshly ground nutmeg (or ¼ t. jarred ground nutmeg)
½ t. salt
5 oz. frozen blueberries (or any other frozen berry that you would like!)

For the Topping:

1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 c. packed light brown sugar
1 c. chopped pecans
2 T. light corn syrup
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. freshly ground nutmeg (or ½ jarred ground nutmeg)

Fresh Maple Syrup for Serving

Instructions

1. Thoroughly butter a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.

2. Using a bread knife cut the Challah into 1-inch thick slices and arrange in the baking dish so that they are slightly overlapping.

3. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, orange zest and salt. Whisk well so that everything is thoroughly combined. Pour this mixture over the Challah bread. Gently press the Challah down into the milk mixture so that the bread begins to absorb the liquid.

4. Pour the blueberries over the bread, tucking them between the layers and sprinkling them over the top as desired.

5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night, or for up to 24 hours. While it rests in the fridge the bread should soak up all of the liquid and flavor.

6. The next day, preheat the oven to 350. Then, make the praline topping by combining the melted butter, chopped pecans, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and corn syrup in a bowl. Spread it evenly over the top of the french toast.

7. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbly and the top is toasted and golden brown.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This is a terrific casserole to serve a crowd for brunch, or just to enjoy with family. I love that the flavors can be tweaked as desired, feel free to substitute raspberries or cherries for the blueberries. And, if you’d like to use a different bread then day old french bread would work well, too. If someone is allergic to nuts, simply omit the topping.

Naptime Stopwatch

As you can see above, preparing this takes about 20 minutes. The rest of the “work” entails leaving it in the fridge and then popping it in the over the following morning. There is hardly an easier way to feed a crowd.

Naptime Reviews

I have yet to meet one person who does like french toast, especially this one. With all the rich flavors everyone from the grandparents to children adore this dish.

Naptime Reviews