Saturday, 1 October 2011

French Toast Casserole

It may be purely an American thing to make a casserole that is not savoury but whatever you choose to name this dish it is not a disappointment for something special of a sweet & stodgy nature.

It is probably best to refer to the meal where this dish is served as brunch otherwise you are flat out having dessert for breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to the idea of having dessert for breakfast, and in fact some of my favourite breakfasts are probably considered desserts somewhere in the world (waffles smothered with syrup, bagels with fruity cream cheese, porridge with dried fruit and drizzles of honey...) but for the sake of appearing healthy let’s just refer to this as the perfect brunch dish.

My mom found this recipe a couple of years ago and prepared it for our family Christmas Brunch that year (see how that sounds? Brunch is just fantastic!).

Simply put, it was awesome. It is now in my ever-growing repertoire of tried & tested recipes.

Basically it is a giant finger-licking portion of delicious French Toast (or Eggy Bread as it is called in the UK) that has been smothered in a sticky combination of syrup, pecans and brown sugar.  It is then baked to perfection so each bite has a bit of crunch followed by the soft sweet insides.

It is pretty simple to assemble and well worth a try! Your sweet tooth will definitely thank you (even if your waistline wants to disown you).

Below is the original recipe that my mom typed out for me from the newspaper article where she discovered it.  The article credited the recipe as being adapted from Virginia Willis' Bon Appetit, Y'all.

It is worth noting that recently I made a half batch (since I didn’t have a football team to serve it to) in a brownie pan and it worked quite well and made two large portions or 4 petite ones.

French Toast Casserole (makes 8 servings)
4 TBSP (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf brioche (any sweetish white bread will do) sliced roughly 1 1/2 inches thick
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1/2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/4 TSP ground ginger
Pinch Salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Confectioners Sugar
Maple syrup

Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a 9x13 inch baking dish.

Arrange bread slices overlapping in the dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt. 

Pour mixture over bread, and let it soak in. 

Top bread slices evenly with pecans or walnuts.

Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meantime, take casserole out of refrigerator and let sit at room temp for 20 minutes.

Bake casserole until browned and set, 30 to 45 mins. Let cool slightly on wire rack.

Sift confectioners’ sugar over casserole, and serve with syrup.

(Adapted from Virginia Willis' Bon Appetit, Y'all)

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