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.
PaniniKathyJuly 11, 2008
Oh wow – I can’t believe I’d never heard of this before. I definitely need to add it to my brunch repertoire!
janelleJuly 11, 2008
could you make it with whole wheat bread?
LynneJuly 12, 2008
This is very similar to a British bread and butter pudding (as against a bread pudding which is very different here) except that we would butter the bread before layering it, and lightly sprinkle sugar and raisins between each layer.
The streusel topping sounds very tasty!
dawnJuly 12, 2008
I’ve never heard of this either, but I’m glad I did–it looks delish! Nice pic too.
diningoncentsJuly 12, 2008
This reminds me of baked pancakes- and looks absolutely delicious. I love your site, I baked your confetti cupcakes last week and they were an absolute hit! Thanks for the recipe! ~Y
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)July 12, 2008
This is a brunch dish to die for! I’m heading for the phone to invite some friends for brunch right now….
WerbemittelJuly 13, 2008
yummmm…. It looks very delicious. I seriously need to spend a week in the kitchen to concentrate on making more brunch- your french toast looks ultimate, it’s a personal fav.
gizJuly 13, 2008
This is such a great recipe to create a stress free brunch and the layers look just fabulous.
JenJuly 13, 2008
Tried this this morning. I must’ve done something horribly wrong because it was terrible! The custard never would test as done, even after 50mins. The cats wouldn’t even eat this one.
Smelled fabulous while it was cooking tho.
CookiePieJuly 13, 2008
That looks soooo good!! I make something similar, with a melted butter and brown sugar layer on the bottom. When you serve it you flip it over so the caramel oozes over it. But I love your recipe, with the streusel! I’ll have to try that… when we have friends over, otherwise my husband and I would eat the whole thing… 🙂
CindyJuly 13, 2008
This looks so good! But somehow, I keep thinking it needs a cream cheese layer, sort of like cream cheese danish, only cream cheese French toast.
NicoleJuly 13, 2008
Jen – I’m sorry to hear that! I can’t imagine what could have happened. The only thing I can think of is that there might have been some unforseen difference in the type of bread you used and the type I used (even though sandwich breads tend to be pretty similar).
zanaJuly 14, 2008
I had the same problem as Jen,it never tested done.The very edges were good, as well as the streusel. Maybe I should’ve used stale bread.
KarenJuly 14, 2008
I’m not a French toast lover, but who could not want a bite of this?
I know people who would sell their dog for some streusled French toast.
Patricia ScarpinJuly 15, 2008
I have never tried French toast, let alone baked ! And I love anything streusel.
AshleyJuly 15, 2008
I’ve made baked french toast before but never thought to put streusel on top! Great idea. It looks mouthwatering!
nickkiJuly 16, 2008
I’ve just written the recipe for this down – I love french toast and the idea of making this the night before is very appealing to me 🙂
Cindy HJuly 16, 2008
My daughter would think I was the swellest :o) Mom if I made this one day when her friends stayed overnight! She’s in her early 20’s now, but she always had me make regular French Toast for her when her friends stayed over!
Thank you for this recipe!
sharonJuly 18, 2008
What a great idea. I’d love to make this the night before and have wafting aromas of cinnamon in the morning.
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TonyaAugust 15, 2008
I made this for a work function and everyone raved. It smelled heavenly, so much so that my German Shepard guarded the oven 🙂 I modified the recipe to make it work for a cake pan, and doubled the topping recipe. It was delicious. This has been added to my recipe box.
TonyaAugust 15, 2008
Additional notes: When I made it for a cake pan I used five eggs and adjusted the milk and spices accordingly. I did not necessarily achieve a custard, but the typical french toast mix. I filled it up to level with the bread and sprinkled with additional cinnamon before refrigeration. I cooked for the amount of time and at temp listed and it worked out great using white sandwich bread cut into diagonals. Hope this helps someone.
DanielleAugust 26, 2008
I made this for my family and they loved it! We fought over who got the bigger pieces and my mom keeps asking me to make it again. I would definitely recommend it!
NadjaNovember 14, 2008
Looks yummy. Quite simple and reminds me on our “armer Ritter” (means “poor knight”) that we have in Germany. Will have a try.
TrishJanuary 8, 2009
I am making this this morning…it already looks so good and it is not even in the oven yet!!!
My whole family is awaiting in anticipation. Thank you for sharing.
RachelAugust 3, 2009
I tried this this morning, and it also did not turn out. I baked for at least an hour and let it cool for 15 minutes… when I came back to the room, it had sunken down in the middle… I cut it anyways and it was all complete goo! I was really looking forward to this being awesome 🙁
LisaApril 12, 2011
I make something similar, with a melted butter and brown sugar layer on the bottom. When you serve it you flip it over so the caramel oozes over it. But I love your recipe, with the streusel!
JazMay 4, 2012
I made this tonight. But with pannettone that I’ve needed to use up. I doubled the cooking time and it worked. Lovely.