With many claiming breakfast to be the most important meal of the day, it certainly pays to plan ahead and make something delicious for a weekend breakfast, or when you have guests.
This serves around 8 to 10 people, plus it ticks many the food group boxes – protein (egg), carbs (bread), and dairy (milk, cream). You can serve it with some fresh strawberries, or whatever fruit is in season, so that ticks another healthy eating box.
Some people add extra cream or custard when serving for lunches or as a dinner dessert, but it is absolutely yummy on its own, maybe with a little yogurt.
Called a French toast casserole it is similar to the bread and butter pudding associated with the English.
Having a hot breakfast on a chilly or blustery day does wonders and what could be better than digging a spoon into a sugary crusty top to get to the dreamy custard creaminess below, when you have spent the entire morning outside in chilling rain or driving snow, milking goats, or tending to your chickens?
Creamy and sweet, this easy overnight French toast casserole will warm your heart and tummy on those chilly fall days.
The baked French toast casserole doesn’t have to be reserved for breakfast – you can serve for lunch, or even as a dessert.
What I love about this is that you can prepare it the night before, in-between making dinner. I love to make full use of my time in the kitchen, and evenings are the best time as usually the family gathers around and one has a glass or wine in hand, as well as a willing helper or two.
In the morning digging people out of their beds early to help will only earn you glares and dropped lips. The scent of this baked French toast casserole will be enough to everyone out of their beds, however.
It’s way better than staggering into the kitchen in the morning thinking – “Oh my gosh, I have to fry eggs and make toast” – and we all know how that goes for a large group, as this person wants their egg over easy, another wants sunny side up and the next wants it so cooked it could bounce off the floor cause they, ‘simply dislike runny eggs’.
It all puts just too much stress on the cook first thing in the morning!
To make this baked French toast you can use a wide variety of bread, in fact whatever you have on hand, as long as it’s a plain or sweet type of bread.
Rye bread and bread with herbs won’t give you the right taste, and you have to be careful with sourdough – the very crusty artisan type sourdough won’t give that soft creamy flavor.
However a softer sourdough will work but not be quite as custardy and creamy as white bread, light brown bread, gluten free bread, left over dinner rolls, or hamburger buns.
If you use brioche, kitke or challah with their buttery flavor the casserole will be even richer. Try to avoid using super dense seeded bread like pumpernickel – you want bread that will easily absorb the egg/milk/cream/ mixture.
I usually like to use muscovado sugar because it has around a 10% molasses component, and imparts a caramel, toffee flavor to your baking.
Remember we’re also using vanilla and cinnamon too – all designed to tempt those sleepyheads to the breakfast table. Sucanat, short for sucre de canne natural, is made from cane sugar juice that does not have the molasses component removed (it contains 13% natural molasses), compared to light brown sugar which only has 3.5% molasses added back into it after refining.
Dark brown sugar has 6.5% molasses. When I came to make this recipe is discovered there was only white sugar left in the pantry so I went ahead and used that. It still tasted great.
French toast is traditionally made with bread, egg and milk, but I just can’t help adding a little more, like raisins, sultanas, or some dried cranberries to the mix, which starts making it lean towards a bread and butter pudding. Add them in or leave them out – it’s up to you.
To say that this is the best baked French toast casserole recipe may be a bit of a stretch, but it certainly is a winner!
Everyone had seconds of the one I baked for these photos – including a rather particular-about-what-I-eat 22 month old toddler. I halved the recipe given below and it fed 4 adults comfortably, plus the toddler.
We served it with plain vanilla yogurt – no extra fruit, custard or syrup, simply because it’s the start of a new year and everyone is exercising and watching what they eat – sort of!
French Toast Casserole Recipe
- 9-by-13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan
Baked French Toast
- 2 teaspoons melted butter for greasing the casserole dish
- 1 loaf bread a plain white sandwich loaf, brioche, or kitke bread, 6 hamburger buns, or bread you baked at home
- 8 eggs whole
- 2 cups full cream milk
- 1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
- 1 cup sugar sucanat, muscovado, or brown or white
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries optional
- 1/2 cup plain flour you can easily sub gluten free flour blend as well
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- a pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces 4 ounces, or 113 grams
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For the French toast:
- Grease the baking pan or casserole dish with the melted butter.
- Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and distribute evenly in the pan.
- If you are adding the optional 1/3 cup of sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries scatter them in at this point.
- Crack the eggs in a big bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sugar of choice, and vanilla.
- Pour evenly over the bread.
- Cover the pan/dish tightly and allow to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
For the topping:
- Mix the flour, sugar of choice, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a separate bowl.
- Stir together using a fork.
- Add the butter and mix it all together by hand or with a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Store in an air tight container in the fridge, separate from the casserole.
When you’re ready to bake the overnight French toast casserole:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle on the topping.
- Bake for 40 minutes for a softer, custardy, bread pudding texture or for 1 hour or more for a firmer, crisper texture.
- Remove from oven and serve warm, with guests able to add yoghurt, whipped or pouring cream from a bowl on the table. Also have chopped peaches, strawberries, blueberries or suitable fruit you have harvested from the homestead in a bowl for guests to add, followed by a drizzle of raw honey or maple syrup.
- Warmed raw honey or maple syrup
- Fresh whipped cream or custard (optional)
- Fresh berries or chopped fruit such as strawberries, blueberries or peaches.
When you try this overnight French toast casserole, do leave a comment on how it turned out – and don’t forget to pin it for later on your favorite Pinterest board.
What is your favorite go-to breakfast for chilly mornings?
updated 01-13-2021 – Jeanie Beales
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.