Since breakfast is the first meal of the day, I thought I’d put up a recipe for baked french toast as my first Quick and Easy Meal post.
I love breakfasts on weekend mornings, but it’s pretty hard to cook breakfast with a baby attached to you in a sling. Breakfast involves tending to things that are sputtering in oil and butter on a stove top. Things like bacon and eggs and pancakes and french toast that you can’t readily leave to soothe a crying baby–and things that would potentially scald your kid. Nisht gut.
So when I woke up this morning craving french toast, I wondered how I would pull it off. I could put the baby in her high chair and make french toast as quickly as I could (so far, she’s happy for about 15 minutes in the high chair–and after that, all bets are off–she’s known to sit in her high chair for 30 minutes, but she’s also known to scream her head off after 15 minutes, announcing that she is Done With The High Chair Pick Me Up, Dammit).
Orrrr I could bake a french toast casserole. I figured it could be the best of bread pudding and french toast worlds. There’s no required knife work, everything is mix and combine, and the most dangerous part of the whole deal is taking the dish out of the oven. But you can ask someone to take it out for you, or set the baby down for an entire 20 seconds while you do so.
So in sum: no knife work, no open flames. Quick prep. Easy bake. I made the whole thing with my kid in a sling.
It was absolutely simple to cook, and I think you could even prep the whole thing the night before and then just pop it into the oven when you wake up. My husband, who loves custardy french toast, thought this was good. And if you top it with a sugar and butter topping before baking, I think you could even go without the maple syrup. ;)
Recipe follows after the jump…
Baked French Toast
You technically don’t even need a knife to make this–instead of chopping the challah into cubes, you could just tear the bread with your hands.
- one challah, slightly stale (I buy one on Friday and make french toast on Sunday, but your mileage may vary)
- 6 eggs
- one cup of milk–you can use lowfat
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- one splash of cointreau or grand marnier–i.e., about 1 tablespoon (optional)
- about one teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- one stick of butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup of flour
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- one baking dish
- one large bowl for mixing the egg custard
- one ziploc bag for making the crumb topping
- a bread knife if you’re cutting the challah into cubes. otherwise you can use your hands
- measuring cups/spoons (otherwise you can eyeball it–this isn’t a recipe that requires exact measurements)
Preheat oven to 350F if you are making this right away (i.e., not prepping the night before). Grease the baking pan with butter.
Cube or tear the challah (or other loaf of bread) and fill the baking pan with the bread.
In a large mixing bowl, put eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, orange liqueur, and sugar. Whisk/mix to combine.
Pour the custard mix on the bread.
For the topping: combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a large ziploc bag. Mash it with your hands until the butter combines with the dry ingredients and the whole thing gets a bit “lumpy”–i.e., a bit like peas.
If you’re prepping this the night before, you can cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and stick it in the fridge until morning. You would also stick the ziploc bag of crumb topping in the fridge overnight, too.
If you are cooking this right away…scatter the crumb topping on top of the egg + bread mixture. Stick in the oven. Bake for about 40-60 minutes (we like it very soft and custardy, so I bake closer to 45 minutes and even then my french toast came out very browned)–if you like your french toast crispy/browned, bake closer to 60 minutes).
Take out of oven when browned. Let cool. Serve with or without maple syrup!