A French toast casserole recipe is a really great (read: lazy) way to make a fantastic brunch. Most of its magical work happens while you sleep – soaking up the custard and infusing the bread with flavor. Assemble it before bed, cover it tightly and refrigerate until morning. Then pop it into a hot oven and while the coffee is perking, breakfast is already making your kitchen smell like a bakery.
All you need is an old loaf – of bread. I had an old cinnamon raisin loaf in the freezer already cubed and ready to go. But any stale loaf of gluten-free bread will do. If you can find one that has cinnamon swirl flavors already baked into the loaf, all the better.
Bread pudding is never a front row pastry counter beauty. But – just call it rustic and don’t worry about how it looks because the result more than makes up for it in flavor. Be sure to serve it warm and feel free to drizzle warm maple syrup over each serving for a ridiculous over-the-top but fantastic brunch.
I really miss French toast, and rarely eat it anymore because the sweet breakfast stuff puts my brain into a coma for hours – one of those about getting older things no one ever tells you. But I make an exception for this every once in a while. I counter it with way too much coffee – which is just a big burden (not).
With Rosh Hashanah coming up in a couple of weeks, this could come in handy. If your house is anything like ours, we have way too much leftover challah and it needs a purpose. Blueberry French toast sounds like a good re-purpose for a tasty brioche-type bread.
In the spirit of being flexible, substitute any other berry or even the new crop of apples (chopped) or ripe figs (also chopped) for blueberries – keeping the amount in the same ballpark. Use bread that you like to eat because that flavor will stand out, even though it is soaked in the custard.
Next time you see a loaf of gluten-free bread? Think French toast casserole as its second act. Everyone will be glad you did.
|Blueberry French Toast Casserole, Gluten Free||
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled
- 600-700 grams ½-inch bread cubes, stale (about 5 cups)
- 400 grams fresh or frozen blueberries (2 to 3 cups)
- 6 extra-large eggs
- 560 grams whole milk (about 3 cups)
- zest of one lemon
- 65 grams orange juice (1/4 cup)
- 65 grams brown sugar (1/3 cup) to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Grease a 9×13 casserole with 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Place cubed bread and blueberries in the dish making sure the mixture is well mixed (use clean hands).
- In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, zest, orange juice, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pour into the casserole over the bread mixture. Dot the top with the remaining butter. Don’t stir, but do push the bread cubes and berries down into the liquid gently. Cover the casserole tightly with plastic wrap or foil and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove plastic wrap or foil place the casserole on the counter top to warm up slightly while the oven preheats. Place casserole on a baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake 15 minutes.
- Turn temperature down to 325°F and bake 45-60 minutes until the custard is set. If the casserole is shallow it will bake on the shorter time end, but if it is thick, give it a little more time. The top will become puffy and the pieces of bread sticking out might get pretty brown, but fear not – it will taste great.
- Cool 10-15 minutes and slice into 3 inch square pieces. Serve warm. Drizzle with a little bit of warmed pure maple syrup, if desired.