Ahead of our family cottage weekend, my mother and I sat down to create a menu for brunch. The difficulty was, we needed enough food and enough variety for 20+ people, AND it had to be easy to prepare in someone else’s kitchen in a minimal amount of time so that we could still enjoy ourselves. In addition to the brunch standards of bagels + lox + cream cheese, we opted for a yogurt parfait bar, which included my all-natural granola, and this lovely and simple recipe for french toast casserole, which can be made ahead of time, as it has to sit overnight before baking. There are many variations on this recipe, and you can definitely tweak it to suit your tastes- you can even replace the nuts with berries, or do both! The recipe calls for the use of whole milk, but skim milk will work well too.
Please excuse our use of VERY fine china in the photos (aka tinfoil roasters), and the messy appearance of the dish- normally you would slice the challah and lay the slices up against each other in rows, but since we had a big crowd to feed we decided to cube the challah in the hopes that it would go farther. The slices definitely provide a better presentation.
Overnight French Toast Cassarole
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 loaf challah sliced into 1 1/2 inches thick slices, or cubed into 1-inch cubes
8 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup whole milk (or skim milk)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup pecans, measured then chopped, or equivalent amount in berries (blueberries or cut up strawberries would be nice)
1/8 teaspoon salt
maple syrup and/or powdered sugar served on the side for topping
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with the melted butter and pour evenly on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Arrange slices of challah so that they are overlapping and leaning on each other slightly. Alternatively, just toss in your challah cubes.
- Combine the milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl and pour evenly over bread.
- Sprinkle the pecans and/or fruit on top.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4- 12 hours.
- About an hour before serving, remove from the fridge, uncover and let stand for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 and cook uncovered for 35-40 minutes. If the tops start to brown too much, you can cover with tin foil midway through baking. Bake until bottom is still moist, but no longer soggy.
- Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and/or maple syrup.