Baked french toast is a really great recipe to have in your repertoire. The idea behind it is that you can prepare it the night before, refrigerate it, then pop it into the oven when you wake up in the morning. It’s an ideal brunch dish because you can make as much – or as little – as you want, and unlike regular french toast, you don’t need to stand over the stove working on one or two pieces at a time. It’s built just like a bread pudding. Layers of bread are stacked in a casserole dish and a custard mixture of eggs and milk is poured over the bread before refrigeration. Since the bread sits in the custard so long, it soaks up each and every bit of it so that the finished french toast has a nice, custardy center.
French toast on its own is nice, but a really good brunch dish should have a little something to set it apart from everyday fare. I opted for streusel. The brown sugar streusel is same kind that you’d find on top of a muffin or coffee cake and works out very well here. It bakes up to be slightly crispy – a very nice contrast to the custardy and soft french toast – and with a great flavor. You can still top the toast with maple syrup, but the streusel is actually enough on its own.
Instead of using full slices of bread, I like to cut up each slice into halves or triangles, sometimes removing the crusts just to ensure I get the most evenly cooked result. Regular sliced sandwich breads are my favorite for this type of dish. Homemade breads and some bakery breads simply have too much crust to absorb the custard properly. This isn’t to say that it won’t work, but your finished product may be a little more “rustic” looking and you might want to break everything into small pieces and actually go the bread pudding route instead. As for this, it can either be sliced or scooped for serving.
Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and either eaten cold or reheated, to.
Brown Sugar Streusel Baked French Toast
12 slices [white] bread (approx)
2 cups milk
4 large eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp butter, melted
Cut crusts off bread and cut each piece into triangles. Arrange bread into three even layers (the exact number of slices will vary depending on the size of the bread you start out with) in a lighlty greased 8-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour over bread. Press down to ensure all pieces are thoroughly soaked. Custard should just come to the top of the bread layer. It if covers it more deeply, add additional bread.
In a small bowl, make the streusel. Stir together brown sugar, flour and salt. Pour in butter and stir with a form until mixture has the consistency of wet sand. Sprinkle evenly over bread and custard.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350F and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until french toast is a golden brown on top. Let the dish stand for a few minutes. The dish will be very soft and souffle-like, but should not be too runny. The french toast will continue to set and soak up the custard as it cools. Slice and serve warm, with maple syrup.