Yesterday was BF’s birthday… not just any birthday, the big 3-0. (Looks like it’s about time to trade in for a newer model, eh?) 😉 Like any loving girlfriend, I did what I could to make his big day special, starting with breakfast. Since he let me open one of my Christmas gifts early this year, which just happened to be Baked Explorations, I thought it would be sweet to bake something from the book he got me for Christmas for his birthday… are we still following?? Their baked french toast recipe inspired me to try my own, so the night before (note: you must prep the night before), I prepared the french toast, and left it in the fridge to soak overnight.
Now let’s take a moment to talk about things that bother me: one of which being vague directions. They say to “arrange the bread in the pan” and pour the egg mixture over it, but then when it’s time to bake, you “arrange the bread in an overlapping pattern”… so how am I supposed to arrange it originally? NOT in an overlapping pattern? I’ll tell you that with my challah, that was the only way to arrange it, so i just left it as is and prayed for the best. I did return to the fridge to tilt the pan randomly to make sure all the slices were getting coated…
Lucky for me, it all worked out. BF got a delicious birthday breakfast, followed by a swedish massage, lunch at his favorite pizza place, several hours of “free time”, a fancy-pants dinner at an overpriced restaurant downtown, and last but not least, surprise cake and present time with his family (who were kind enough to oblige my request to park down the road and wait in the dark in our house on our way home from dinner).
Another thing that bothers me: the inability to get good natural lighting for early morning pictures. Like, any time breakfast is made. Or, this time of year, by the time dinner is made… early morning and late evening sun are the absolute WORST for pictures, but what can ya do? It’s not really about the pictures, it’s about the recipes… right? Ok, so it’s kinda about the pictures….( sorry )
Sorry for deserting you all for a while, as you may have noticed on my Facebook, the BF and I ran off to Vegas for a few days to eat some delicious food, then we came back, had birthday extravaganza, along with the usual holiday madness… Tomorrow: Christmas brunch. Oh, if you’re hosting brunch, maybe you should whip some of this together tonight and spare yourself a little hassle in the morning… MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Baked French Toast
[ Printable Recipe ]
- 1 loaf Challah bread, about 11 ounces
- 4 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 3/4 cup milk (or 1/2 cup milk + 1/4 cup heavy cream)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lb strawberries (or other berry)
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Generously butter the sides and bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan. Slice the loaf into 1- or 1 1/2-inch slices and arrange them in the pan HOWEVER YOU LIKE. (I just arranged hem the same staggered way they would be, because I couldn’t smush them into the pan any other way). For spots that the whole slice of challah wouldn’t fit, I shoved 1/4 – 1/2 of a slice in to cover the empty area.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk just until they break up. Add the half-and-half, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. (I suspect a splash of bourbon wouldn’t hurt, and if you’re not cooking for vegetarians, maybe a little chopped, cooked bacon).
Whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread slices. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (If you’re paranoid like me, periodically swirl the pan allowing the egg mixtures to coat the bread)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use your fingers to flip each bread slice over, making sure to coat the entire surface with the liquid. Arrange the bread in an overlapping pattern, allow to sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the French toast is golden brown and puffy.
Set aside to cool slightly while you make the berry sauce.
For some reason unknown to all those who are sane, BF actually prefers just sweetened fresh berries, so I let mine macerate at room temperature while the french toast baked instead of making an official “sauce” out of them. In a small bowl, toss the berries with the sugar.
The sauce in Baked Explorations uses 2 cups of raspberries + 4 tablespoons of sugar. Same instructions, cooked over low heat until the berries break down, about 10 minutes. Then strained into a container. I suspect strawberries would do fine in there, too. Maybe I’ll have to post my “quick berry sauce” recipe… which I haven’t made in forever. Hmmmm….
*If you don’t use challah, use italian or french bread, but I would add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the egg mixtures since those breads aren’t as sweet as the challah.