I don't know about you, but if given the choice, I will almost always choose French Toast over Pancakes or Waffles. I'm not sure why, exactly, but it must have something to do with the bread-y nature of French Toast?
What can make French Toast even more decadent? Making it into a rich casserole dish that is, let's face it, easier to do overall. No having to cook individual slices of bread on your frying pan. Instead, it's all in a nice casserole dish, ready to head into the oven after some preparation and sitting. Yes, you do have to let this sit for a while to allow the bread to soak up all of the eggy mixture. But is it worth it? Um, duh.
Now, if you know Paula Deen (whose recipe this originates from), you know she doesn't skimp on the heavy ingredients. This has not only half and half, but also a whole stick of butter and a cup of brown sugar. Yeah, it's not for those on a diet. That said, it's rich enough that you can be pretty satisfied by just having a small amount rather than eating up huge swaths of it. I did omit the corn syrup called for in the topping, and actually reduced the butter a bit, and it still turned out rich and decadent anyway.
One thing I would also recommend is perhaps using Challah bread or even a Texas Toast bread. I used a regular French loaf from the grocery store, and while it certainly worked, it didn't soak up as much of the egg as I would've liked, and I think a thicker bread like one of those two might work a bit better, personally. Speaking of soaking up the egg, this will have almost a bread pudding consistency. If you don't like that, you can probably reduce the amount of eggs and dairy mixture and get it how you like it. I think this is probably a fairly adaptable recipe for whatever you like best!
Baked French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf (13-16 ounces) French bread
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups half and half
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Dash salt
- For the Praline Topping:
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Slice French bread into about 20 slices, close to 1-inch each. Arrange the slices in a 9x13 baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and whisk until blended but not overly bubbly.
- Pour the mixture over the bread slices, making sure they're all evenly covered. You can spoon some in between the slices to double check.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours/overnight.
- When it's ready (when the bread has soaked up most of the egg mixture), preheat your oven to 350F and make your praline topping.
- Combine the butter, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix together well. I just used a fork.
- Spread your praline topping evenly over your bread and bake for about 40 minutes, until puffed and golden.