Simple Baked French Toast

Post by: Kim

I dropped the ball.  It’s been a while since my last post, yes, but with 2011 in full swing and Christmas trees discarded curbside, I regret not having shared this one sooner.  Although this dish won’t make it on to your holiday brunch table or as a festive New Year breakfast, there will be plenty of long weekends and leisurely Sunday breakfasts in the year ahead to take advantage of a simply recipe for custardy baked French toast. 

The beauty of this French toast is that it does not rely on the quality of bread.  In fact, the recipe actually calls for “soft-crust supermarket Italian bread,” a surprisingly low-brow ingredient for the pages of Gourmet and a common ingredient easily purchased at my neighborhood corner market.  But it works.  Giving the bread plenty of time to absorb a simple egg and milk custard overnight transforms mediocre bread into a fluffy and gently sweet pudding-like dish that only needs a touch of maple syrup or a little fruit for finish. 

Baked French Toast

 Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

I doubled the recipe for a crowd on Christmas morning and used two 13” loaves.  This would be delicious with the addition or cinnamon but I prefer adding nutmeg to the custard. 

 (2) 13” loaves “soft-crust supermarket Italian bread”

4 large eggs

3 1/3 cups milk (not skim)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

3-4 Tablespoons sugar

Butter for greasing your dish

Generously butter a 9″x13″ glass baking dish.  Slice your bread into 3/4″ slices, discarding the ends then arrange the slices into two rows so they are overlapping slightly in your dish.  Beat your eggs, then whisk together the milk, salt, and nutmeg until the mixture is completely smooth.  Pour the entire egg and milk mixture over the bread and cover.  It will look like a lot of liquid but the bread will soak it up; let the bread sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. 
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  When you are ready to bake, uncover your dish and sprinkle about 3-4 tablespoons of sugar over the top of the bread.  This dish took quite a bit longer to bake than the 20-25 minutes instructed by the original recipe.  After about 25-30 minutes, you will notice that the custard will begin to puff up; the French toast is done when the bread is a dark carmel color, crispy at the edges, and the entire dish is puffy.  Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. 
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