In this French toast casserole, cubes of bread are baked in a creamy custard made with fresh eggs and maple syrup that’s seasoned with aromatic spices such as nutmeg and cardamom. A mix of dried fruits gives it a festive touch making it a welcomed warm breakfast to serve a small crowd during the holidays and throughout the winter season.
Yield: 9 servings
- 8 cups cubed sourdough bread (about a 10-ounce loaf)
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/2 cup mixed dried fruits (e.g., golden raisins, cranberries, blueberries, chopped apricots)
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
- powdered sugar for serving
Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking pan or casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the bread cubes evenly in the pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Whisk in the maple syrup, brown sugar and vanilla. Next, whisk in the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, cardamom and clove until evenly distributed throughout the liquid.
Pour the liquid over the bread. Press the bread gently to nearly submerge it all. Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and uncover at least 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pan on a baking sheet, just to protect from any spills over the sides. Sprinkle the dried fruits over the soaked bread. Then, sprinkle on the walnuts (optional). Gently press in the fruit and nuts and work them into the crevices. Fruit on the very top will brown, and possibly burn, while baking.
Bake for 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the French toast is firm in the middle. Liquid should no longer bubble up when you gently press on the pieces in the center.
Let cool for 10 minutes, and scoop with a spoon or cut into squares. Serve with powdered sugar on the side for topping the French toast.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Chickens magazine.