I have a great recipe for you today, friends. It's one that marries decadent deliciousness with make-ahead ease. If you were to come spend the night at my house, odds are that I would feed you this for breakfast.
Then you would never want to leave in hopes I would feed you more. It's. that. good.
Nana and I developed this French Toast Casserole in our test kitchens after I went to the beach with some friends and one of them made a lip-smacking French Toast Strata. Yum. It was inspirational. So we made this simple version of French Toast Yumminess that men, women, children, and dogs alike will all love. Trust me.
It's really easy and quick. Shall we make French Toast Casserole? Yes. Yes, we shall.
Here's what you need:
1 stick of butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 lb. Loaf of French Bread, day old bread is best
(most loaves are 16 oz. or 1 pound, so you may have to buy 2 loaves)
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
(Not pictured and Optional is 1/2 cup Pecans...me no likey the nuts)
Alright, let's get crack-a-lackin.
First melt one stick of butter in the microwave.
"That really melts my butter" - Dolly Parton, Steel Magnolias
Now measure 3/4 cup of brown sugar. When you measure brown sugar, proper procedure is to pack the brown sugar into your measuring cup very tightly, smashing it with a spoon. Just thought you might be interested.
Then combine the brown sugar and butter.
Brown Sugar Island.
Mix the sugar and butter together so that they are well combined. The butter will slightly melt the brown sugar and you'll end up with a syrupy mixture of goodness.
Pour the mixture into the bottom of greased 9x13 glass baking dish.
Next is the fun part. Cut your loaf of bread into 2 inch-ish cubes. I always just tear the bread. I think it looks rustic and charming. And I'm too lazy to get out my cutting board. Tear or cut, it's your choice. Put the bread in the baking dish on top of the brown sugar mixture.
When you get all the bread in the baking dish, you may have to smush it down a little to make it all fit. That's fine. It'll be better for it.
By the way, this recipe works best with day old bread, but if your loaf is fresh that's fine. Try to leave it out on the counter an hour or two uncovered so it will get just a little harder.
Next, crack 8 eggs in a bowl and lightly beat them with a whisk or fork.
Add 1 cup of milk to the eggs.
Now for the good stuff. I'm using my awesome Spice House Cinnamon and Double Strength Vanilla, from Sha and Smatty. Any Vanilla and Cinnamon will do, but these special spices really brought a great flavor to the French Toast.
Add a Tablespoon of Vanilla.
And 1/2 teaspoon of Cinnamon. I add more like a whole teaspoon. I sprinkle Cinnamon with reckless abandon and apologize to no one.
Lastly, add a dash of salt. How much is a dash, you say? Check out my cutesy cool measuring spoons. Dash, Smidge, and Pinch.
I think that's what I'm going to name my kids.
If you don't have cutesy measuring spoons, use about an 1/8 of a teaspoon of salt.
Whisk. Whisk. Whisk.
Until well blended.
Pour your egg and milk mixture over the bread.
(If you wanted to add the Pecans, now would be the time to sprinkle them over the top of the bread.)
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24. This gives the bread time to soak up the yummy sugar on the bottom of the dish and the rich eggs and milk that you poured over the top. Good things come to those who wait.
(I was making mine for supper, so you'll see that these next pictures are a little dark. Don't be alarmed. It's just night time. Who's ready for some longer sunny days? Me too.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. When it's ready, the top should be brown and a bit crunchy.
The inside will be soft and delicious.
Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar and serve piping hot.
I like to serve French Toast Casserole with sausage or bacon and fruit. This recipe serves 6-8 happy people.
Love you. Mean it.
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