For the last few years, the boy’s preschool has done a Breakfast with Santa a few weeks before Christmas. And every year, they have had this delicious French Toast Casserole as the main dish. We’ve always loved French toast, but this takes it to another level.
I decided, after raving over the meal again this year, that since I know how to make regular French toast, why can’t I figure out how to turn it into a casserole myself? So I started thinking about all the ingredients and how it would work. Then I started to experiment (that’s where the real fun comes in).
I made this as a make-ahead recipe, getting all of it prepped the night before, and refrigerate it. Then in the morning, we just had to take it out and bake the casserole.
Of course, the core of this recipe is in the bread. I made it with a regular store-bought loaf of bread, but next time I plan to make my homemade bread so I can have more uniform pieces of bread in the casserole. But for now, it worked to get a baseline on the recipe, and it was still good, there were just a few pieces that were cooked more than others.
Another key ingredient in this recipe is eggs. Justin did the grocery shopping this week and I asked him to get two dozen eggs because I knew this takes so many, and Ryan has been eating scrambled eggs for breakfast a lot lately. So he got home with two dozen eggs. I helped put the groceries away. And dropped an entire carton of eggs that, of course, opened on the way down. All 12 eggs broke all down the inside of the refrigerator and all over the floor. It was a mess. And then we needed more eggs. But at least I was able to add all the shells to my compost bin!
PS one week later, and even after mopping and vacuuming and mopping again, I am still finding bits of eggshells clear to the other side of the kitchen! After that egg catastrophe, I needed to grab a few forgotten items at the store a couple days later so bought another dozen eggs. This time they made it to the refrigerator just fine.
Anyway, back to the recipe. Typical French toast is made by dipping bread into a mixture of egg, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla (in our recipe). I also wanted to add a bit of sweetness to this casserole, so I put in some brown sugar as well.
I started by cutting the slices of bread into ninths (two cuts one way, two cuts the other way), and piled all of that into a greased 9×13 baking dish. I didn’t put it in nicely but did make sure that it covered the dish evenly.
Then, in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Pour the egg mixture over the bread, making sure to get as much of the bread as possible. Cover the dish, and refrigerate it for at least a couple hours, up to overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. I recommend letting the dish sit out at least while the oven is preheating, maybe even a little before that. You don’t want to put a cold glass dish into a hot oven because it could expand the glass too quickly and shatter. I may have experience in this from years ago………
Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes, until the top starts to get crispy and the bottom is no longer moist. We didn’t cover ours, but I am going to try it next time so it can cook a bit longer before the top starts to get too brown.
Serve warm with some maple syrup on top!
Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf bread
- 8 eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Cut bread into one-inch cubes; on a regular loaf of bread, slicing it into ninths works well
- Spread out bread in a greased 9x13 glass baking dish
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine all other ingredients and mix with a wire whisk
- Pour liquid mixture over bread, wetting as much of it as possible
- Cover and refrigerate at least 4-5 hours, up to overnight
- Remove the glass dish from the refrigerator and give it about 10-15 minutes to warm up (cold dish in a hot oven could break)
- Put the dish in a cold oven and set it to 350 (lets the dish warm up with the oven)
- Once the oven is preheated, bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the bottom is no longer soft
- Serve warm with maple syrup