French Toast Casserole Recipe 2

Introduction

French Toast Casserole is a delightful and comforting breakfast dish that combines the rich, custardy goodness of traditional French toast with the convenience of a casserole. This dish is perfect for serving a crowd, making it an excellent choice for weekend brunches, holiday mornings, or any time you want to impress your family and friends with a warm, hearty meal. The best part is that it can be prepared the night before, allowing the bread to soak up the luscious custard overnight and making your morning hassle-free.




Ingredients

For the Casserole:

  • 1 loaf of French bread or brioche (about 14-16 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)


Optional Toppings:

  • Fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Whipped cream

Preparation

Step 1: Preparing the Bread

  1. Start by selecting your bread. French bread or brioche works best for this recipe due to their texture and ability to absorb the custard without becoming too soggy.
  2. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. If the bread is fresh, let it sit out for a few hours or toast it lightly in the oven to dry it out. This helps it absorb the custard better.

Step 2: Making the Custard

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and salt until fully combined.
  2. Melt the butter and allow it to cool slightly before adding it to the mixture. Whisk again to incorporate.


Step 3: Assembling the Casserole

  1. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Spread the bread cubes evenly in the prepared baking dish.
  3. Pour the custard mixture over the bread, ensuring all pieces are well-coated. Press down lightly with a spatula to help the bread soak up the custard.
  4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. This allows the bread to fully absorb the custard, resulting in a rich and creamy texture.

Step 4: Preparing the Topping

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, all-purpose flour, ground cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Add the cold, cubed butter to the mixture. Use a pastry cutter or your fingers to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. If using, stir in the chopped pecans or walnuts for added crunch and flavor.
  4. Cover the topping and refrigerate until ready to bake.


Step 5: Baking the Casserole

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap.
  3. Sprinkle the prepared topping evenly over the casserole.
  4. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
  5. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Step 6: Serving the Casserole

  1. Slice the casserole into squares and serve warm.
  2. Add your desired toppings. Fresh berries add a burst of color and flavor, while a dusting of powdered sugar provides a touch of elegance. Maple syrup and whipped cream are classic choices that enhance the dish’s richness.



Tips for the Perfect French Toast Casserole

  1. Bread Selection:
    • Choose a sturdy bread like French bread or brioche. Avoid using soft sandwich bread as it can become too mushy.
  2. Drying the Bread:
    • Dry bread absorbs the custard better. If your bread is fresh, cut it into cubes and let it sit out overnight or toast it in a 300°F (150°C) oven for about 10 minutes.
  3. Custard Ratio:
    • The ratio of eggs to milk and cream is crucial. Too many eggs can make the casserole taste eggy, while too little will make it too soft. The balance in this recipe ensures a perfect texture.
  4. Overnight Soak:
    • Letting the casserole sit overnight in the refrigerator allows the bread to absorb all the custard, resulting in a more flavorful and moist casserole.
  5. Topping:
    • The streusel-like topping adds a delightful crunch and sweetness. Feel free to customize it with your favorite nuts or even add some oats for extra texture.


  6. Baking Time:
    • Keep an eye on the casserole as it bakes. If the top browns too quickly, cover it with foil to prevent burning while the inside continues to cook.

Variations

  1. Fruit-Filled French Toast Casserole:
    • Add a layer of fresh or frozen fruit between the bread cubes. Berries, apples, and peaches work particularly well.
  2. Savory French Toast Casserole:
    • Omit the sugar and spices from the custard. Add sautéed vegetables, cooked sausage or bacon, and shredded cheese for a savory twist.
  3. Chocolate French Toast Casserole:
    • Add a handful of chocolate chips or chunks between the bread cubes for a decadent chocolate version.
  4. Cinnamon Roll French Toast Casserole:
    • Mix in some raisins and extra cinnamon. Drizzle with a simple icing made of powdered sugar and milk after baking.
  5. Nut-Free Topping:
    • If you have nut allergies, simply omit the nuts from the topping. The casserole will still be deliciously crunchy.


Nutritional Information

This French Toast Casserole is a rich and indulgent dish. Here’s a general idea of its nutritional content per serving (based on 8 servings):

  • Calories: Approximately 450-500
  • Protein: 10-12 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 50-55 grams
  • Sugars: 25-30 grams
  • Fat: 20-25 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 12-15 grams
  • Fiber: 2-3 grams

Serving Suggestions

  1. Brunch Spread:
    • Serve as part of a larger brunch spread with dishes like scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, and yogurt.
  2. Holiday Breakfast:
    • This casserole is perfect for special occasions like Christmas morning or Easter brunch. Pair it with festive beverages like mimosas or hot chocolate.
  3. Dessert Option:
    • While traditionally a breakfast dish, this French Toast Casserole can also be served as a dessert, especially with the addition of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


  4. Leftovers:
    • Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave or the oven until warmed through.

Conclusion

French Toast Casserole is a versatile and crowd-pleasing dish that brings together the best aspects of breakfast and dessert. Its rich, custardy base, combined with the sweet, crunchy topping, makes it an irresistible treat. Whether you’re hosting a brunch, celebrating a holiday, or simply looking to make a special breakfast, this casserole is sure to impress. With the ability to prepare it the night before, you can enjoy a stress-free morning and spend more time with your loved ones. So, gather your ingredients, prepare your casserole, and get ready to savor the delightful flavors of this classic dish.




 

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