French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

Just wanted to share a yummy recipe that I made a few days ago: French toast casserole.

All of the prep work is done the night before, so if you want to sleep in late on the weekend, you can. The only thing you need to do is pop it in the oven the following morning and, BAM, French toast.

Oddly, I never eat breakfast foods for breakfast. I made the casserole the night before and baked it off in the oven for dinner the following night. I served it with some scrambled eggs and home fries on the side and it was really yummy! Highly recommend.

No surprise, I went to old faithful, Cook’s Illustrated, for the French toast casserole recipe. They haven’t steered me wrong yet.

I’ve included the original recipe below but when I put mine together I made a few tweaks. Since I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I left out the brown sugar/butter/corn syrup topping entirely. To compensate a little for the loss of flavor, I upped the amount of sugar in the casserole from 1 TB to 1/4 Cup, increased the vanilla to 1 TB, eliminated the nutmeg (not a nutmeg fan) and increased the cinnamon to 1 tsp. Before popping the casserole into the oven, I dotted the top with 3 TB of butter which is a lot less than the 1 stick of butter the recipe for the topping required.

I also went against the recipe suggestion of using a fluffy, thin crust loaf. Since I know I prefer a drier, crispier French toast I intentionally chose a crustier, heartier loaf. I went with an Italian semolina bread with sesame seeds. If you prefer a wetter, more custardy French toast, then go for a softer loaf, for sure.

Even with my adjustments the casserole still came out really delicious and I didn’t miss the sweetness of the topping either. After I cut and plated the casserole into individual servings, I poured a little bit of maple syrup on top, so in the end it was a little sweet but not as super sweet as the original recipe would’ve been.

The casserole tasted awesome and the texture was great too: browned and crusty on top but soft, fluffy and not too wet underneath. It’s definitely a recipe worth repeating.

FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
from Cook’s Illustrated

Do not substitute low-fat or skim milk for the whole milk in this recipe. Walnuts can be substituted for the pecans. Be sure to use supermarket-style loaf bread with a thin crust and fluffy crumb; artisan loaves with a thick crust and chewy crumb don’t work well here. The casserole needs to sit in the refrigerator, well covered, for at least 8 hours in order to achieve the desired consistency, and it can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Oven Temperature: 350°F

Servings: 8

Preparation: 30 minutes Cooking: 1 hour and 30 minutes Inactive: 8 hours Total Time: 10 hours

CASSEROLE:
16 oz. bread , torn into 1″ pieces
1 TBS. unsalted butter , softened
8 large eggs
2½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
1 TBS. granulated sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

TOPPING:
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened (1 stick)
1-1/3 cups light brown sugar (9-1/3 oz.)
3 TBS. light corn syrup
2 cups pecans , chopped coarse

FOR THE CASSEROLE:
Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325° F. Spread the bread out over 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and light golden brown, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Let the bread cool completely.

Coat a 13″ X 9″ baking dish with the butter and pack the dried bread into the dish. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined and then whisk in the milk, cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and press on the bread lightly to submerge.

FOR THE TOPPING:
Stir the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until smooth, then stir in the pecans.

TO STORE:
Transfer the topping to an airtight container and wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the topping and casserole separately for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

TO SERVE:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350° F. Unwrap the casserole and sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, breaking apart any large pieces with your fingers. Place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Slice bread and cut into 1 inch pieces

Toasted bread cubes

Custard

Pour custard over toasted bread cubes

Bread cubes that have been soaked in custard overnight

French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole

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