Need a breakfast for New Year's Day? Something that will feed a crowd?
This is quite possibly the best French Toast you'll ever have!
I was looking for a simple yet special breakfast to make on Christmas morning. Preparing breakfast the day or night before is all well and good but I'm usually taking care of last minute odds and ends and getting everything ready for Christmas Day. I didn't want cinnamon buns, coffee cake or croissants this year. I wanted something with a little more pizzaz. After all breakfast is my meal with the children who, come early afternoon, head off to spend the rest of the day with their father. As any divorced parent will tell you time, especially during the holidays, is precious. Perhaps more than those who are still married, we soak up every minute we have with them. Some of us share the day while others alternate years. No matter which, it's never enough. The moments we have with our children are precious and those we don't can get terribly lonely. On Christmas Day I have my children but for a few fleeting hours and of those hours I don't want my time spent in the kitchen. As I was perusing through some old cookbooks I happened upon a recipe for baked French toast that seemed more like a bread pudding. I made a few changes - less cream and butter and added some apples and raisins. Prep time took no longer than 15-20 minutes and the cooking time about 45 minutes. What resulted was a breakfast that was almost decadent and simply divine.
This would be perfect for a crowd on New Year's Day. For a softer, more custard-like consistency bake for 45 minutes, for something more like bread pudding, bake for an hour. It's sweet enough to enjoy on its own, but hardcore French toast lovers may want to drizzle a little maple syrup over the top.
Ingredients for the French Toast:
- 1 loaf of 1-2 day old challah bread (Stale bread is best for this)
- 8 whole eggs
- 2 cups lowfat milk
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and cubed
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup of raisins
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 3/4 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 - 2/3 cup of chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease 9 x 13-inch baking dish with butter or a non-stick spray. Break off cubed sized pieces of challah and toss into a very large mixing bowl.
Peel and cut apples into bite sized pieces and toss into the bowl with the bread. Add the raisins and mix well. Distribute evenly into the baking dish.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and nutmeg. Pour evenly over the bread. If need be use your hands and press down to make sure that each piece of bread is well covered. Let sit for 15-20 minutes.
While the bread is soaking in the custard mixture, mix together the flour, brown sugar, nuts and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Add butter pieces and cut them into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. (I did this in the KitchenAid mixer)
Bake for 45 - 1 hour. Shorter will result in a custard-like texture and longer will be more bread-pudding like.
Let cool a few minutes before serving and spoon out onto plates. Maple syrup is optional here.
Looks good, doesn't it?!!!!