After 5 straights days of early wake-ups to cold, dreary rain, sleeping in on a Saturday and enjoying breakfast sounded like a much better idea then running. Back in Toledo, when the weather gets bad I tend to hit up the treadmill at our apartment complex, but on my last away rotation, it just seemed like a waste to brace the weather to drive to the gym, just so I can run in place. I’ve actually been pleasantly surprised that my runs in the cold rain have been pretty enjoyable, it’s just much harder to take that first step out the door on a Saturday morning. In fact, I’ve now made it my goal to run outside all winter this year. So in comes this amazing french toast, that can be made the night before and ready within 30 minutes of waking up on a sleepy Saturday.
This is really the perfect meal for company because to make a double batch would be no extra trouble. It certainly beats sitting over the stove and flipping pancake after pancake while the finished ones sit in the oven getting soggy. Besides, I have always preferred French toast to pancakes, which likely stems from my childhood (okay..and high school..and college) obsession with all things French. This dish is really wonderful enough to eat on its own, with out added syrup or butter, which is something I would rarely say about pancakes. We served it with some turkey sausage, and it made for such a cozy warm Saturday morning. And thanks to some help from lululemon (my unfortunate new obsession), I still had a good run in the rain later that day.
Baked French Toast
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 loaf (about 1 pound) brioche or challah, sliced 1 1/2 inches thick
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk (at least 2%)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- sprinkling of ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Maple syrup, confectioners’ sugar or fresh fruit for serving, optional
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and nutmeg and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.