Some of the beauty of the holidays are all the tradition surrounding the season. One of my personal favorites is our Christmas breakfast tradition. One year, 2009, I think, I made a baked French toast casserole and Dan didn’t like it (after two previous times when I’d made it and he’d sworn he loved it. Weird.).
He said* I could make it again if I tweaked the recipe a little bit. And then he set off on an internet research-a-thon to find the best baked French toast casserole recipes available instead of just trusting that I knew what I was doing and that I would tweak it just fine, thankyouverymuch.
So I kept giving him stares of the blank variety and nodding my head. And then I set out to tweak the casserole.
I’m happy to report that this Christmas breakfast was a success. And since I’m all generous and giving, I’ll tell you how I tweaked this recipe, too.
Baked French Toast:
I found this in a Paula Deen cookbook and then messed with it a little bit. The original recipe is hers and can be found here.
My baked French toast incarnation goes something like this:
- 1 large loaf French bread OR 2 small loaves French bread (or more, it’s up to you)
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Dash salt
- Praline Topping, recipe follows
I skipped the nutmeg from the original recipe because I’m not crazy about the flavor of nutmeg. If you like nutmeg, by all means, sprinkle some in there.
You’ll also notice I cut back on the eggs and milk because, in my experience, the problem with the original recipe is that it gets too soupy and the bread can’t soak up all that moisture. So? Less moisture. Problem solved.
Now let’s get to the assembly.
Slice your French toast baguettes/loaves into, uhm, slices, and arrange in a buttered baking dish. Mix together eggs, milk, half and half, sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and pour the mixture over the bread, dipping and overlapping the bread as you go. Make sure both sides of the bread get dipped into the eggs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, I deviated a little more from the original recipe’s directions.
Preheat the oven to 350. If there is any non-soaked-up egg mixture in your casserole dish, drain it off. Otherwise your baked French toast casserole will be gross and overly soggy. Then bake the casserole uncovered WITHOUT the praline topping for about 25 minutes. This allows the bread and eggs to cook.
While that’s baking, make the praline topping.
- 1.5 sticks butter, softened slightly
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1.5 cup chopped pecans (I used pecan pieces. And please say this word “pee-can.” For me.)
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Again, I skipped the nutmeg because I am not particularly fond of the flavor.
Cut the ingredients together until sort of crumbly. Top the casserole with the praline mixture and bake for another 20 minutes or so.
Try not to lick your oven door while this is cooking, okay? The oven door will not taste as good as this will. And you will probably burn yourself.
You will not need maple syrup for this recipe. In fact, I think maple syrup would ruin it. If you like maple flavor and you have some really, really, really good maple syrup, use that instead of the corn syrup to get the flavor in there. But trust me. You don’t need it.
We serve this with thick-sliced, center-cut bacon so that you get a balance of sweet and salty. And the only picture I have is from Instagram because I am always too busy eating it to grab my real camera and take a better picture** but not so busy eating it that I can’t share it with everyone in the world.
Dan loves my tweaked recipe for baked french toast, too. So much so that there’s none left by the day after Christmas and I always want to make more because that’s how good it is.
What holiday traditions does your family have?
*I do 90% of the cooking ’round here, so let’s be real for a minute. I would’ve made this again anyway.
**iPhones have come a long way, baby. This year I will take a better picture as my Christmas gift to the world.