I tried this Baked French Toast recipe this morning and found myself in breakfast heaven! So delicious! And this would be great to serve to a larger group because you could make it ahead. Instead of cooking over a skillet, you could just pull this out of the oven and serve it, thereby giving you more time to chat with your guests. This breakfast dish is wonderful as is, but I intend to experiment with different breads and maybe trying to incorporate fruit into the French toast prior to baking. This recipe, slightly modified, comes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.
1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread (I actually used a loaf of "cinnamon burst" bread from Great Harvest Bakery, which was great, but I'm sure a variety of breads would work)
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
Fresh fruit, such as peaches or blueberries, to serve with the French toast after it has baked
Grease the baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and keep in the fridge for several hours (overnight preferably). Or you can make it and bake it right away---delicious no matter what!
For the topping, mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and a pinch of nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and, with a pastry cutter, mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.
When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture, or for 1 hour-plus or more for a firmer, crisper texture. Scoop out individual portions. Drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with fresh fruit such as peaches or blueberries.