Oven Baked French Toast
Posted by fourclankitchen on April 25, 2010
This is really a bread pudding/dessert that masquerades as french toast. It is requested by the junior set in my clan on every vacation. In accordance with the established protocol, I resist, and then cave in and make it, because it is easy to make. The keys here are a high quality challah (or a brioche) and real maple syrup. Also, it is best to start the night before, although I have assembled it and stuck it in the oven with few complaints.
The basic idea is to soak the challah in a custard (eggs, sugar, half and half) in the evening and bake it the next morning. But what puts it over the top is a maple syrup-nut layer that you layer beneath the custard. You bake it and flip it over, so the nuts and maple syrup form a nice topping for your French toast. So here goes:
Baked French Toast (from Bon Appetit)
1 lb. challah bread, sliced into 1″ thick slices
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cup half and half.
1 cup maple syrup + extra for serving
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 cup pecans or coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 generous pinches of salt, divided (or use salted butter)
Combine butter, brown sugar, maple syrup and a pinch of salt in a pan over low heat till the butter and sugar melt and a smooth syrup is formed. Pour the maple syrup mix into a 13x9x2 non-metallic rectangular pan and spread the chopped nuts evenly over the syrup. Beat eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cream, the second pinch of salt and vanilla in a large bowl until all the ingredient are thoroughly blended. Soak each slice of break in the custard and arrange on top of the maply syrup-nut layer. Do not pack the bread tightly since it will swell as it bakes. Pour the remaining custard over the bread, wrap tightly and place in refrigerator until the next morning. You can proceed immediately if needed, but make sure that the bread is thoroughly soaked in the batter/custard.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bake french toast in the oven until it becomes puffy and golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 min. Cut into 6 pieces and serve. The original recipe suggests serving this with warm maple syrup, but it is plenty sweet and does not really need the added richness.