Saturday, July 16, 2011

Baked French Toast

It's becoming a very tasty tradition to make this french toast when we go on vacation with friends. It's just so incredibly easy. You assemble it the night before and then pop it in the oven the next morning. It's like someone else made breakfast for you (and with my terrible memory, I can actually play out that fantasy fairly easily). Of course this is only a good plan if you're driving to your vacation destination (and there's an oven there). I don't think I'd check a pan in my Samsonite or try to smuggle one inside my carry-on. If the whole vacation scenario isn't working for you, I suggest making this next time you have company stay over. Pretend you're running a B & B. I've always liked that idea, except I kind of hate people, so my B & B would only be open to people I already know (and some of them are a little iffy).

Makes 8 servings

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (or corn syrup)
1 (8”-9”) loaf challah bread (or brioche), crusts trimmed if desired
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier (or other liquor)
1/4 teaspoon salt

1.    In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and brown rice syrup over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth.  Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish.
2.    Cut bread into 1 ½-inch thick slices; arrange slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
3.    In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread.
4.    Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
5.    Bring bread to room temperature.  Preheat oven to 350° F.
6.    Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes.  Serve immediately.

barely adapted from Inn at Sunrise Point in Camden, Maine
sugar/butter melting
It can take about 8-10 minutes for the mixture to get smooth (don't rush it).
slicing challah (I don't bother trimming the crust)
syrup poured into pan; starting to arrange the challah

I used a disposable pan because I was bringing this on vacation
(there is a handy lid, but I don't have a photo).
challah snugly arranged to fit
mixing the custard
custard poured over the challah
the next morning
(you can see the bread really soaked up the custard)
Yet another thing to love about this makes it's own syrup!

I've made this many times and if you cook it slightly longer,
the sauce will thicken a bit more and cling to the bread.
If the sauce is a looser (like in this photo), just spoon some
over your french toast, like I did. It's good either way.

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