Fun fact number one: Baked french toast is essentially bread pudding for breakfast. Fun fact number two: I love french toast (be it baked, or not) and bread pudding almost more than anything (except maybe my kids). And although I have a bread pudding recipe in the archives (this chocolate banana-bread bread pudding yumminess), I do not have a baked french toast recipe — until now.Some back story: A soon-to-be 13-year-old taste-tester that I know celebrated his birthday early with a sleepover party back in June, and he requested baked french toast for the morning after. Usually I make my cinnamon buns for both him and his brother for special occasion breakfasts, but who was I to argue with an almost-teen? As I understand it, one is supposed to keep conflict to a minimum. And, duh, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to develop one of my all time favorite things for one of my all-time favorite testers/humans.
And I’m not going to lie, the recipe came together in a snap. In the past, I had always used Matt and Nato’s baked french toast recipe, sans raspberries and almonds, however, because I am not super into fruit with my french toast/bread pudding. But the bday boy requested blueberries and I wasn’t going to argue (see above for why). I used challah (although brioche would be just as delish), cream and milk for my soaking liquid, and a combo of eggs and yolks, as well as brown sugar, granulated sugar, some melted butter, and no spices — super simple and unadorned in other words.
And here’s the thing about baked french toast (in addition to the simplicity of the ingredients), it is one of those dreamy baked goods that you make ahead of time!! (Usually I am wary of exclamation points, but this calls for two). The night before, you slice the bread, layer it (attractively) in your pan, combine all the remaining ingredients, whisk, pour over the bread, and sprinkle on (kind of a lot) of blueberries. Place the pan in the fridge for the night so the bread can soak up the custard, and in the morning, you do nothing but pop it in the oven and feed it to your folks. And to say there’ll be no arguing — even among the teens in your life — is an understatement. Enjoy.
Overnight Blueberry Baked French Toast
- 1 lb. loaf of challah or brioche or other enriched bread (this is a lot of bread - you may not need it all)
- 3 large eggs
- 3 yolks
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 6 Tbsp unsalted butter melted, and cooled
- 1 1/2 cups blueberries fresh, or frozen
- Turbinado sugar for sprinkling
- confectioner's sugar for dusting
- Grease a 13x9x2-inch pan with cooking spray or softened butter.
- Slice the challah into 1-inch slices and slice those slices in half. Arrange attractively in your prepared pan, layering the bread in three rows, as in the photographs.
- Combine the eggs, yolks, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and whisk. Add the sugars and whisk again. Add the milk, cream, and butter (which may make the custard curdle a little) and whisk a final time. There will be A LOT of custard. Don't be alarmed: the bread will eventually soak it all up (either in the fridge or in the oven) and the extra custard makes for the dreamiest of baked french toasts (IMHO). Pour the custard over the bread, pressing the bread down with your fingers, if necessary, to make sure all of pieces are submerged.
- Sprinkle the blueberries over the bread, and, using your fingers, gently push some of the blueberries between the slices of bread. Sprinkle generously with Turbinado sugar. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the pan from the fridge and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, checking after 45. The bread should be golden brown and the custard fully absorbed and “cooked.” If you like a looser, softer custard, bake for closer to 45 minutes. And if you like a crispier French toast, bake for longer. I'm somewhere in between.
- Serve immediately with confectioner's sugar lightly dusted on top.