French Toast Casserole

Another fact about me…I don’t like breakfast.  In fact eating early in the morning – yuck!

Maybe the fact that I’m NOT a morning person has everything to do with this.  I barely can think in the morning hours to get myself from my house to work, so breakfast is not a high point.  The only thing I have to have in the morning is my café con leche (coffee with milk, or café au latte, if we want to get fancy) if I don’t have that every morning, I’m a cranky person the rest of the day – which means no fun for anyone in my immediate vicinity.

But, I do love brunch. Not during the weekdays, only during the weekend, specifically Sunday brunch.

I think every city had that special brunch place that everyone like to go to.  The one that has the perfect Egg Benedict, or that bake egg with that yummy sauce, how about the bagel with lox or the fruit platters? Or if you are bad, like me, you like to skip all that protein and mosey over to the dark side of carbs. The one, with the sweet breads, Danishes, pies, quiches or the loaded pancakes and waffles.

Yep, I’m all about brunch.

And being the carb-side girl.  I always zero into the all favorite breakfast/brunch dish – the French toast.

I love French toast. 

I hate making it.  It’s messy, and I usually forget and get soggy bread and burn it and it’s just a mess.

So, any opportunity for me to enjoy it and have someone else makes it, it’s a good thing.

Unfortunately, Sunday brunch has been cut off from our fun-fun activities. Because of (say it low)… that pesky little thing going around… the bad economy and all that makes it hard for us to enjoy the good things in life.

We had to tighten our belts and come up with ways to enjoy things at home on the cheap.

Our Sunday brunch tradition included.

So, when I came upon this recipe in Rebecca’s blog Ezra Pound Cake, I all but ran to the store to give this baby a try.  French toast, in a casserole? Making it the night before, and then baking it and serving it?

Show me the way.

The recipe is coming via Virginia Willis.  I love that lady.  I meet her, she is funny, talented and if you love southern cooking, she is it. (Sorry Paula Dean).  Her dishes are always delicious and simple to make.

How can you go wrong?

According to Ms. Willis, this is one of the most popular recipes in her book: Bon Appetit Y’all.

And I can see why, after you try it, it will be your favorite French Toast recipe EVER.  We have made this dish over 6 times in the last four weeks, that how much we like it.

It’s that sinful - In a good way.

French Toast Casserole
Serves 8

Brioche and challah are yeast breads, rich with egg and butter, and make superlative French toast. I could not find any challah the first time and used croissants and they worked just as well.

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 loaf brioche, croissants or challah, sliced 1½ inches thick (about 1½ pounds)
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup chopped pecans (I used almonds too and YUM!)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for accompaniment
  • Sorghum, cane, or maple syrup, for accompaniment
  1. Combine the melted butter and brown sugar in a baking dish (to save on dish cleaning, I put the butter on my baking dish and use the microwave to melt it, then add the sugar and mix).
  2. Arrange the bread slices in the dish, they can overlap.
  3. On a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a bowl. Pour over the bread, letting it soak in. Top with the pecans (or almonds). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the chilled casserole stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
  5. Bake until browned and set, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Sift over confectioners’ sugar.

Serve hot or warm with sorghum, cane, or maple syrup.

Make sure you give thanks for people like Virginia Willis who make the world a better place with food like this.


I would also check out more of her recipes in her Blog.  Or you can buy her book and call it a day.