I have been eyeing French toast bakes for years. I don’t love French toast, but I do very much love French toast croissants, and I do also very much love things that can be made ahead and serve lots of people. The idea of soggy bread makes my sensory issues cringe, but the idea of cinnamon, butter and sugar all up in my breakfast is hard to ignore.
Turns out, there are just a couple things to know and then French toast bakes can be truly magical. Dry bread is better – yay for forgetting about that loaf for a few days! If you only have fresh bread, don’t bother, enjoy it as it is or wait a few days, we all need to avoid soggy bread in our lives. Dense sourdough cubes leftover from my favourite cheesy bacon spinach dip are perrrfect – that slight sourdough tang is the ideal balance to all the sweetness comin’ atcha!
Whole milk is good, real butter is good, crumble topping is good, and the resulting crispy crunchy tops and corners are so, so good. The crumble topping made it seem a touch heartier and healthier than the cinnamon sugar topping I saw in lots of recipes – this topping has less sugar and more fibre, both good things. Even if we are going to douse it in maple syrup shortly, we want to feel healthy for a minute :)
This make-ahead breakfast has been made a few times now, and tastes just as good reheated the next day if there happen to be leftovers. It’s definitely not winning any prizes for healthy and balanced, but it’s a great way to kick off the day with comfort food and a kitchen that smells like the home everyone wants to be in. Have a smoothie with it and you’re really winning all the prizes.
- CARAMEL BASE:
- ½ cup butter, cubed
- ¾ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- FRENCH TOAST:
- About 4-5 cups cubed dry bread, any kind (as much as sits fairly level in your 9x13ish pan)
- 6 large eggs
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2 Tbsp vanilla
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp melted butter
- ¼ cup melted butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- ⅔ cup oats
- ¼ tsp salt
- For the base, microwave butter and sugar together until butter is mostly melted, about 40 seconds. Stir until combined and pour into a lightly greased 9x13" baking dish.
- Dump all your cubed bread on top of the caramel, patting it down lightly.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and melted butter and pour evenly over bread. It's fine if some pieces stick up above the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you make the topping. For the topping, melt butter, then stir in flour, brown sugar, oats and salt.
- Remove plastic wrap from dish and stir the bread mixture around a little. Crumble the topping evenly over the bread, then bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Serve as-is, or top with a drizzle of maple syrup and/or whipped cream.