Variations on this recipe have been floating around for quite some time,
but they all come down to this: bread, milk, eggs, and sugar, baked into a
smooth, custard-y, aromatic breakfast treat. This is a perfect do-ahead
dish: simply prepare the day before, refrigerate it, and bake the next
morning. Salty bacon is the perfect accompaniment.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or corn syrup
French or Italian bread sliced 1/2 inch thick, enough to cover the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch pan
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, half and half, milk, or fat-free half and half
5 large eggs, or 1 1/4 cups egg substitute
1/2 teaspoon flavor: pralines & cream, eggnog, vanilla-butternut, Amaretto, or your choice; OR 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan or shallow 2-quart casserole.
Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the brown
sugar and syrup. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cooking until the sugar melts.
Pour the glaze into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners.
Bread: Lay the slices of bread in the pan, atop the glaze. Use baguettes for smaller
servings, a fat loaf of Italian bread for larger servings. Leftover/stale bread
works well here; kids may prefer softer, sandwich-type bread, which will make
softer, smoother French toast. Adults seem to prefer bread with more body.
Custard: Whisk together the cream, half and half, or milk, eggs
or egg substitute, the flavor, and the salt. Pour it over the bread in the pan,
pressing the bread down into the custard.
Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 24 hours.
When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Topping: Stir together the brown sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Sprinkle it evenly over the bread.
Bake the French toast for 40 to 45 minutes, until it's bubbly and the
top is very lightly browned.
Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before
Serve individual slices of bread, turning it over on the plate so the syrupy
bottom is on top.
Hands-on time: 15 to 20 min | Baking time: 40 to 45 min
Total time: 8 hr 55 min to 1 day 1 hr 5 min | Yield: about 9 servings
Recipe and photo credit (used with permission):
King Arthur Flour