January 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Week: Vanilla Bean & Almond French Toast {Powernap}

Crock Pot French ToastSlow Cooker Challenge Week!: Don’t forget it is Naptime Chef & Small Kitchen College Sl0w Cooker Challenge week. Come over to see our amazing sponsors and for your chance to win a brand-new slow cooker!

When I first began thinking about The Naptime Chef & Small Kitchen College Slow Cooker Challenge I knew I wanted to experiment with all kinds of dishes. I slow cook stews and lasagnas all the time, but for this week I wanted to tackle a few less commonly slow cooked meals. Breakfast seemed like a good place to start so my first step was to remake my favorite Overnight French Toast casserole for the slow cooker.

French Toast Slice

After my daughter was asleep for the night I played the role of bedtime chef and whipped up a yummy egg mixture full of fresh vanilla beans and almond extract and poured it over slices of slightly stale challah. Except, instead of doing this in a baking dish and leaving it overnight, I placed the challah in the slow cooker insert. Then, I set it on low heat and let it bake for eight solid hours. I’ll admit, I was a little worried it would overcook, but it didn’t! By 7:00am the next morning we had a piping hot french toast casserole all set for breakfast. The bread was puffed up and the flavorful egg mixture had been completely absorbed. I’ve always thought the method of baking a casserole first thing in the morning was hands down the easiest way to serve French toast. But the slow-cooking method may be even easier than that!

Breville

Entry Requirements to Win a Breville Slow Cooker:

1. Visit this Slow Cooker Challenge post to read the simple requirements for entering the contest.

Disclosure: This gift was generously donated by the kind people at BigKitchen.com.

Recipe

 Slow Cooker Vanilla Bean & Almond French Toast

Ingredients

1 loaf day-old challah bread
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 vanilla bean, beans only
5 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pinch kosher salt

Instructions

1. Lightly coat the inside of the slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Slice the challah into ½-inch slices and arrange them, overlapping, in the slow-cooker.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the rest of the ingredients until very well blended, then pour over the challah in the slow cooker. Push the bread down so that it is completely submerged. It will spring up, but that is ok. Place the cover on the slow-cooker and set the heat to low and cook for 8 hours. (I turned it on at 11pm so it was ready at a good time the next morning).

3. In the morning allow the French toast to cool slightly, then cut and serve!

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

We served this exceptionally vanilla-y toast with a drizzle of fresh maple syrup, but it would also be great with berries or applesauce.

Naptime Stopwatch

10 minutes prep time, 8 hours slow-cook time

Naptime Reviews

A huge hit with the family, this might be our new favorite method for french toast!

  • Joybean

    I want to make this this weekend but I’m confused about the vanilla bean – what do I do with it?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Joybean – slit it open and scrape the vanilla beans into the egg and milk mixture!

      • Joybean

        Thanks!  Obvs. I’ve never cooked with actual vanilla beans before – and now I know why!  At $10 per bean I think I’ll try this recipe with the vanilla extract that I already have – I’m thinking my toddlers won’t know the difference!    

        • Anonymous

          I am sure that will work just fine! :)

        • Jenthebaker

          Joybean – Try http://www.beanilla.com…. they have vanilla beans for $1 each or less. They are also extremely helpful over the phone if you would prefer to call them. Their number is listed on top of their website.  Hope this helps!

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  • Christina

    Sounds yummy! Would you say this has more of a bread pudding texture, or a firmer traditional french toast?

    • Anonymous

      Hi Christina! It is a little softer, like a bread pudding!

  • Guest

    I loved the idea of this recipe…I had leftover heavy cream and an abundance of vanilla beans (great Costco clearance a while back).  The thought of waking up to the aroma of vanilla and the prospect of NOT having to make my favorite breakfast while still half asleep and clutching my coffee sold me, in spite of my failed attempts at everything crock-pot related (I just cannot find something that comes out with a delicious end result).  I am sad to say that this recipe proved to be another fail for me.  I followed instructions to a T, and woke to a batch of soggy bread swimming in clear liquid (what?  It looked like the makings of a delicious custard-y blend when I made it the night before?).  I poured off the excess liquid in the hopes of salvaging what was in the pot, and found that all my edges were burned, bitter, and inedible.  I scooped out the innards, threw what looked like french toast hash onto a griddle and attempted to cook up the undercooked egg bread slop….in the end my kids and I choked down a few bites, but alas I will never again stray from my favorite baked orange french toast or even the simple leftover wonder bread on a griddle method that I grew up on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Atop.rn April Topachikyan

    I tried this last night and was so excited to share this with the family this morning. Problem being the bread didn’t cook (absorb the egg mixture) evenly. The bottom half is way too moist and the top half is on the dry side. I’ve turned them all over hoping gravity will help. Any ideas to prevent this?

    • KelseyTheNaptimeChef

      Hi! I think every slow cooker is slightly different. Also, it is essential to push down the bread so the liquid is all absorbed. Maybe next time try letting the bread soak up the liquid for a few hours in the slow cooker before turning it on!

  • kim

    Is it possible to half the recipe?

    • KelseyTheNaptimeChef

      Hi! I am not entirely sure. I have never tried it!

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  • CouponDivaAndi

    just subscribed to the blog – and bookmarked the recipe as well… :D