That title may be a mouthful, but I feel like each word is important. Not only is the recipe baked instead of fried, but it can be made the night before in casserole form (as opposed to each individual piece of french toast), and can be popped into the oven in the morning. Which means one very important thing: less fuss all around!
In the past, my mom would wake up at 5am on Christmas morning to make us julekake, which is a Norwegian Christmas bread dotted with dried fruits. This year, however, I felt like we needed to take it easy. So after late night mass on Christmas eve, I whipped up this casserole. Instead of waking up at 5, I was able to wake up at 9:30 and have it ready to serve it for our traditional pre-present-opening brunch by 10:30. It may not be Norwegian, but it was easy to make, and it got rave reviews! Not to mention, the blueberry syrup that’s paired with it is so versatile, I can see myself making it for tons of other dishes.
Sadly, I have yet to think of a vegan version for this recipe. If anyone has any tips for veganizing it somehow, let me know!
Tweaked from this recipe.
- a 12-inch loaf of french bread (thick kind) or a 24-inch baguette
- 6 large eggs
- 2.5 cups whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup pecans (I had to sub in some walnuts and it was still great)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cut 1-inch slices of bread and lay them in baking dish. In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and 1/4 cup brown sugar and pour evenly over bread.
2. Chill mixture, covered, until all liquid is absorbed by bread, at least 8 hours, and up to 1 day. Halfway through the chilling or an hour or 2 before baking (whichever is more feasible for you), flip the bread layers so that all the sides are able to absorb liquid equally.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toast pecans in a pan over medium heat. After they’ve toasted slightly, add 1/2 stick butter to the pan along with the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir until butter is melted and pecans are coated.
4. Sprinkle casserole with the butter-pecan mixture and 2 cups blueberries. Bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until the blueberries are purple or burst and the top layer of bread is slightly browned. (Cooking times will vary based on the type of bread you use, and how thick your layers are.)
Make syrup while French toast is baking:
5. In a small saucepan cook blueberries and maple syrup over moderate heat until berries have burst, about 3 minutes. Pour syrup through a sieve into a heatproof pitcher, pressing on solids, and stir in lemon juice. Syrup may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Reheat syrup before serving.
6. Serve alone or with sides. (I served it with a pear-blackberry fruit salad.)
And enjoy your fuss-free breakfast or brunch!