If you are hosting family and friends this very busy weekend, out of all the recipes posted out there, this one is “THE ONE” you want to make and keep – trust me. Overnight French Toast Casserole. Nuff said!
A search for overnight French toast casserole will undoubtedly drive you batty as there are so many to choose from. When I tell you that I was on a mission and very much committed to finding the ultimate overnight French toast casserole, I’m not exaggerating. I was tired of hosting family and friends and having to wake up really early in the morning and spitting out individual egg plates, pancake plates, French toast plates, etc., etc., and being so tired I couldn’t enjoy their company and only wished THEY WOULD LEAVE! (sorry-not-sorry to my friends and family reading this, but YES, there was a part of me that wanted you gone so that I could finally sit down and relax!). Enter this recipe into the picture and believe me when I tell you that this is THE ONLY one that will be worth your time and effort.
So now I WELCOME back my family and friends once again because this is such a breezy-peasy-make-your life-easy, recipe. So quick to prepare…you start the night before by making the egg mixture and letting this soak into the stale bread overnight then in the morning, after allowing it to come to room temperature a bit, you pop it in the oven and 45 minutes later, you’ve got the perfect breakfast/brunch (I’ve even had it as dessert!) French Toast you will ever bite into.
This French Toast Casserole is made with the bread of your choice (French, Italian, croissants) however, Challah bread is the one I choose to use (also known as egg bread in some parts) just because I believe it enhances it altogether, but I have made it with stale (see the tip below) French bread or Italian and it has come out just as equally delicious but please, for the love of goodness sake, do not use Tuscan or rustic bread as they will not absorb the custard correctly. The topping on this casserole sends this way over the top, as it has a praline pecan topping but with the addition of maple syrup! Truly a breakfast that’s complete if you add in some sort of meat (sausage, kielbasa, bacon, you get my drift).
It took me forever to post this recipe and sorry for that, but better late than NEVER right?…….Right! Go out there and get you some bread to make this for tomorrow morning. You, your guests and even the little pets around you (if a crumb or two falls), will thank you and they will ALWAYS remember this very special breakfast/brunch. Who knows, this may become a tradition in your family, I know it has become that in mine.
TIP: For better absorption of the egg custard, stale bread is preferred for this casserole. Because of the timing of this post, you may not have stale bread hanging around, if that is your situation, I got you….You simply need to buy your bread LIKE RIGHT NOW and either leave the bag it comes in open until later on tonight when you prepare the custard, or turn on your oven (to about 250°) and place your cubed bread to toast slightly before you assemble the dish and pour the custard on it.
Now go out there and enjoy your friends and family and Buen Provecho!
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 loaf French or Italian bread, OR Croissants, cut into 1 inch cubes, (FOR THIS RECIPE I USED CHALLAH BREAD)
- Non stick spray
- 7 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk, OR 1 can of evaporated milk (REDUCED FAT OR SOY WILL NOT GIVE THIS CASSEROLE THE NECESSARY FAT CONTENT IT REQUI!RES)
- 1½ cups heavy cream (OR HALF AND HALF) BOTH WHOLE MILK AND CREAM ARE NECESSARY!!!!
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (COULD USE SUGAR SUBSTITUTE IF YOU WISH)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp of Maple Syrup (PURE MAPLE NOT IMITATION)
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (OPTIONAL)
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1⅓ cups packed light brown sugar OR (USE SPLENDA BLEND. YOU WOULD USE THE REDUCED AMOUNT OF COURSE)
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup OR Lyle's Syrup (MY PREFERENCE)
- 2 cups pecans, chopped coarse (OR WALNUTS)
- IMPORTANT: PREPARE THE CASSEROLE 8-24 HOURS BEFORE:
- Coat a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined and then whisk in the milk, cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg, if using. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and press on the bread lightly to submerge fully.
- Mix in the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until smooth, then fold in the pecans or walnuts
- Place the topping in a separate bowl covered tightly and refrigerate both the topping and the covered casserole overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Uncover casserole and sprinkle praline topping evenly over the top of the bread casserole, breaking apart any large pieces. Place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from oven (IT WILL DEFLATE AS IT COOLS DOWN).
- SPRINKLE CONFECTIONERS SUGAR IF DESIRED.
- Serve warm. Syrup may be used but may not be necessary as this is sweet enough, it will be at your discretion.