Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
Is it a dinner? Is it a dessert?
It's a dinnert! I invented that. Just now. Bam.
I love French toast. It's part of my whole being a breakfast person. I don't think there's a single breakfast dish (world-over) that I dislike (I mean it. Challenge me). And I especially favor the sweet ones.
You know, the ones that take well to cream. And berries. Because I take well to cream and berries.
And MAPLE. My stars. Have I chattered about maple on here yet?
I know I have. Because it's one of those things I'm a snob about. Maple and butter. Get behind me, margarine! You too, Aunt Jemima (and how is that brand not RACIST?).
If I can't afford the good stuff, I will just go WITHOUT. To show them. There's always jam.
Luckily, such protests have not yet been necessary in my neck of the woods. Expensive though it is, a store near my house has real maple on tap so you can just buy a couple bucks worth and it will be enough to cover that week's supply of pancakes.
Or casseroles. Or dinnerts (patent pending!).
Serve it with cream, and/or lots of butter. And real maple. Or if you just don't have it, jam.
Anna's Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
I adjusted this recipe rather heavily (from Paula Deen on the Food Network website), mainly to avoid inner sogginess, but also to help it become a true 'dinnert' and not just a regular old dessert. The original recipe has a praline-pecan topping which sounds amazing, but a bit too sweet for my tastes - at least for something I'm going to eat in quantity. Still, if you are interested in something a bit sweeter than what I offer below, here is the original recipe, pleasantly garnished with Ms. Deen's smiling face.
Also heads up - this recipe has to be refrigerated overnight, so plan ahead!
1.5 loaves French bread
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Slice French bread into slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 40 minutes, or until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup and butter, and any other topping you like with your French toast.