This French Toast Casserole is a layer, a layered dish of eggs, milk, and bread, plus whatever you want to flavor. Stratas can be sweet, spiked with chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or liquor, or savory, layered with cheese, ham, etc. This one is on the sweeter side and much easier to make for a group than individual slices of French toast.
It’s a great brunch for a lazy weekend morning because all the work (and there isn’t much) is already done the night before. In the morning, transfer the dish from the fridge to the oven, slice up some fresh fruit, or do whatever you want while a hearty and sumptuous breakfast cooks itself.
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All-day breakfast: It doesn’t get any better than these strawberry cheesecake pancakes
It’s the ultimate appetizer and should be made at least 8 hours in advance, so the bread has time to absorb all the sweet, eggy batter. You can also bake it the night before, then put the cooked casserole in the fridge and reheat it in the morning. However, heating the cooked soup takes about 20 to 25 minutes; cooking the whole thing only takes about half an hour, sowon’t save much time. Still, it’s good to know that leftovers warm up nicely in the microwave or oven.
And children, even small children, can help! They can assemble the entire casserole, although an adult must decide if they are old enough to help cut the bread. The kids can also choose the dried fruits or nuts to put in the casserole.
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Try using some stale challah bread, as it is dry and absorbs the milk-and-egg custard better. If your bread is fresh, slice it and let it sit for a few hours to dry slightly, or even lightly toast it in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 5 minutes.
Add a drink: Orange champagne mule.
Why not add a cocktail if you’re going for the all-indulgent Mother’s Day brunch vibe? An orange champagne “mule” fits the bill.
Combine the juice of 1 orange and one lime with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of chilled vodka and 4 ounces (½ cup) of chilled ginger beer in a small pitcher or measuring cup. Divide the liquid between two champagne glasses. Top each with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of chilled champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine. Garnish with orange slices and sprigs of fresh mint and serve chilled.
French Toast Casserole
Butter or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the baking dish
4 cups milk, preferably whole or 2%
Six large eggs
Two tablespoons sugar
Two tablespoons of maple syrup
One teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup raisins, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts (optional)
One large loaf of challah bread, preferably 1 or 2 days old, sliced - to 1-inch thick
To serve: Maple syrup; fresh fruit such as berries, or sliced peaches or pears; and confectioners’ sugar
1. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter or cook it.
2. Whisk the milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in any fruit or nuts.
3. Place half of the bread in a single layer in the pan and cut the bread to form a firm layer. Pour half of the milk mixture over the bread, evenly distributing at least half of the fruit or nuts you added.
4. Repeat, making a second layer of bread and pouring it over the rest of the milk mixture, again evenly distributing the fruit or nuts. Lightly press the bread into the liquid.
4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb almost all of the milk mixture. Uncover the baking dish, and if any pieces are drier on the top, carefully tuck them under the bread on the bottom so that the more soggy chips are now on top (a little messy, but it’ll all work out as it bakes). Note that any dried fruit that sits on the top of the casserole will get quite chewy, and the fruit put in the soup will be softer, so spread the fruit as you see fit.
5. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake French toast, uncovered, until puffed and golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes to firm up a bit. Cut into squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, and confectioners’ sugar of choice.