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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Baked French Toast

When I woke up this morning, I was relieved to see that it had finally stopped snowing.  

7 a.m. this morning, Clyde the party animal was his usual "Yee-Haw!" self.  Gus was like, "It's too early, kid."

Strange, isn't it, how easily I embrace imaginary dog conversations now that my kids aren't around?

They don't even look like they're part of the same conversation in this picture.  Gus looks like he's had enough of the cold and Clyde looks like he's still ready for his close-up.

I decided to make today's recipe, Baked French Toast, because I wanted to use up a package of rolls that I had in my freezer.  It's a perfect breakfast for a snowy day!

Today's Playlist
  • "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"...Weezer
  • "Hey There Delilah"...Plain White T's
  • "Here Comes The Sun"...George Harrison
  • "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)"...The Offspring
  • "Hello Operator"...The White Stripes
  • "For The Girl"...The Fratellis
  • "Blue Orchid"...The White Stripes
  • "Ball And Chain"...Social Distortion
  • "Santeria"...Sublime

Baked French Toast (6 servings, total time required 2 hours 10 minutes)
Printable Recipe

  • 1 loaf day old French or Italian bread (I used 4 sub rolls)
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk ( I used 1% milk, use what you have)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted, for greasing the pan
Crunchy Topping
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, use what you have)
  • 1 teaspoon ground vanilla bean (if you can't find this, use cinnamon)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Gather your ingredients.  Don't pay too much attention to this picture, because I certainly wasn't paying attention when I was gathering.  There's the sugar, posing so boldly, and I had no need for it.

Brush the melted butter on the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

Pour the milk into a large bowl.

Add the light cream.

Crack in the eggs and add the cinnamon.  Hard to see the eggs, they disappeared so quickly into the bottom of the bowl!

Splash in the vanilla extract.

Whisk vigorously until it's completely and thoroughly combined.

Here are the sub rolls from my freezer, they are the reason why I decided that I needed to make French toast.  You can use any type of bread--Italian, French, Challah, or large rolls.  

Anything that you can slice about an inch thick will do.

As soon as I started to slice, my dogs came to life, hoping I would drop a crumb.

Gus to my left.

And Clyde to my right.

You need to remove thin slices from the ends and discard them (or give them to your dogs).  The slices that you use need to have a flat surface, which is necessary to absorb the egg mixture.  Try to slice the bread as evenly as possible, aiming for slices that are about 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.

Arrange the slices into your buttered pan, completely covering the bottom of the pan. As luck would have it, 3 rolls would have been enough.

Pour your egg mixture over the bread, making sure that the top of every slice gets bathed in the mixture.

Cover the pan and refrigerate until the bread has soaked up the mixture, about an hour.  You can also prepare this in advance and refrigerate it overnight.

Before you bake the French toast, prepare the crunchy topping.

Gather your topping ingredients.

I used ground vanilla beans, but if you can't find this ingredient you can substitute ground cinnamon.

Melt the butter in your microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH.  It's okay if the butter is not completely melted.

Add the remaining topping ingredients to the melted butter.

Stir to combine.

Remove the baking dish from your refrigerator.  Almost all of the liquid should be absorbed.  If there's still a little bit left in the bottom of the pan, it's okay.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spread (or crumble) the topping mixture on each slice.

I leave some of the slices topping-free.  Some people prefer their French toast a little on the plain side with no crunchy topping.

I sprinkled a little bit of large-crystal sugar on the plain ones.  

Bake the French toast in your preheated 350-degree oven for about an hour.  I prefer my French toast to be crunchy and crispy so an hour is perfect.  If you like softer French toast, start checking it at 45-50 minutes.

Here we are after 1 hour in the oven, all crispy-crunchy.

I wish I had taken a picture of the crunchy-topped pieces before they were eaten.

I was too focused on the plate of plain French toast that I was about to devour.  After I doused it in maple syrup.  And sprinkled a few blueberries on top.  Some whipped cream would be nice, too.  Maybe next time.


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