Overnight Baked French Toast

When I was a kid on Christmas morning, I can remember waking up, going straight to the gifts and then settling down in the kitchen for the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls that were always waiting for me.

I haven’t seen those cinnamon rolls in a minute, however I decided to keep a Christmas morning tradition alive this year and make something new from scratch.

Overnight baked french toast.

If that word doesn’t hit the spot, then I don’t know what will.

Sadly, when the dish came out of the oven drizzled with syrup and into my mouth, the results were somewhat disappointing.

A misadventure indeed.

The main issue was that it was too eggy and a bit soggy. In fact, instead of the bread soaking up all of the egg custard, the eggs cooked in a layer of their own. For every layer of bread, there was a layer of cooked eggs accompanying it.

I’m guessing the author wanted to give us more bang for our buck.

College student I may be, but I can afford the extra egg if I wanted to make scrambled eggs.

If I were going to try this recipe again, I would have baked it for twice as long.

Side Note: Did you know that brown sugar doesn’t melt in the oven? That if you crumble it over bread and dot the top with butter, the end result will look like bits of crumbled beef (or so my brother says) than the gooey syrup I had envisioned in my head.

Don’t be like me.

But those top slices of bread were the best slices of cinnamon-sugar toast  I have ever tasted.

To make up for this debacle, here is a recipe that I know is fool-proof from the great Ina Garten from the show, “The Barefoot Contessa.”


French Toast Bread Pudding

(From “The Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?” )

Serves 8

1 challah loaf (you can also use Italian or French bread), sliced 3/4 thick

8 extra-large eggs

5 cups half-and-half or milk

3 tablespoons of honey

1 tablespoon of grated orange zest

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the bread in two layers in a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking dish, cutting the bread to fit the dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, honey, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the bread down. Allow it to soak for 10 minutes.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough very hot water to the roasting pan to come an inch up the side of the baking dish. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting it so the foil doesn’t touch the pudding. Make two slashes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the foil, and bake for another 45-50 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from oven and cool slightly.

Serve with powdered sugar or maple syrup.


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