Happy New Year! It was a super busy end of 2012, and I intended to post this recipe pre-holidays because it's a great recipe for Christmas or New Year's Day. Oops. Holidays or not, if you're having company or just want something simple but tasty for breakfast, this is a delicious, easy option.
My aunt and uncle were coming to visit Katy, and I knew I wanted to make some sort of french toast casserole — that's because I wanted something that I could prep the evening before after Katy went to sleep. I found several recipes online, namely Ina Garten's and Paula Deen's. I took my favorite parts of both recipes and morphed them into the hybrid version posted below.
One modification included removing an entire stick of butter from Paula's recipe — I don't know what that woman is thinking sometimes!
I prefer this served alongside a breakfast meat, something fruity (I had sautéed some apples, as my husband had acquired a bushel of honey crisps the week prior), and mimosas to wash it all down. It was a great meal to enjoy with our lovely visitors.
Baked French Toast Casserole (serves 6-8)
Adapted from Ina and Paula recipes
1-2 loaves French bread (about 20 1-inch slices)
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. orange zest
Praline topping (recipe to follow)
Generously butter a 9x13" baking dish. Slice bread into about 20 1-inch slices, and arrange slices in 2 rows, with the pieces overlapping.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, spices, salt, and zest. Pour the egg mixture over the bread slices, making sure they are all evenly covered. Spoon some of the mixture in between the bread slices if necessary. Cover dish with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Distribute praline topping evenly over the bread slices. Bake for 40 minutes until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup, if desired.
Praline Topping (makes about 1 cup)
Adapted from Paula Deen
1 stick butter (8 tbsp.), melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Melt the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Let cool and cover with plastic wrap until ready to use. If prepared the night before, microwave the praline mixture for 20 seconds to make it easier to spread.
Click here for a printable recipe!