A Decadent Breakfast That's Ready When You Are

French toast casserole with maple syrup on a plate
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You won't need any syrup for this weekend indulgence because it makes its own gooey, rich sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. This is a lazy morning, sleeping-in kind of breakfast. It takes just a few minutes to make up the night before, and you'll pop it into the oven when you wake up. While you're enjoying your morning coffee, breakfast will take care of itself.

Total Time: 40 minutes | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
  • 1 loaf soft "French" or "Italian" bread from the supermarket
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Butter a 9- by 13-inch pan thoroughly with the melted butter. Mix the sugar and spices in a small mixing bowl, and then spread the mixture across the bottom of the baking pan. Drizzle with the remaining melted butter. 
  2. Cut the bread diagonally into inch-thick slices, and arrange them neatly in the pan. If there are gaps, cut a slice into smaller wedges and use them to fill the space. 
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients together, and pour them over the bread. Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and place it in your refrigerator overnight. 
  4. In the morning, heat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is lightly golden, the casserole is puffy, and the custard is set but still jiggly in the middle of the pan. Remove from the oven and let the casserole rest for at least 5 minutes so the sauce can cool and thicken slightly. 
  5. Cut into portions and invert each portion onto its plate, so the gooey and aromatic sauce can drizzle down the sides of the finished casserole. Serve with fresh fruit or berries as a garnish. 

Tip

You can use any thick-sliced bread for this recipe, but the ideal choice is the oblong French or Italian loaves sold by most supermarket bakeries. They come unsliced and are usually about 12 to 14 inches long. Softer bread creates a more "pudding-y" texture, while sourdough and other crusty breads remain chewy after baking. All of these are perfectly fine choices, but the soft French loaf is a nice middle ground that appeals to most tastes.