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Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole

My wife and I went to a potluck brunch a few weeks ago, and I wanted to bring something new.  While I have made this french toast casserole, which comes from Cook’s Illustrated, before, the people at the brunch we were going to had not had it, so I thought I would make it. What I like about this dish is that you can make it a day in advance, it is not that time consuming to make, and you don’t need to serve it with any syrup.  Within one hour of our arriving at the brunch, the french toast casserole was virtually gone. Quite a success, I’d say.

Note: You can make a complete brunch with this casserole and the Easy Make-Ahead Egg Casserole and Best Make-Ahead Hash Brown Casserole.  They can all be made 1 day ahead and they bake at the same temperature!

Ingredients

IMG_1282Casserole

1 loaf (16-ounce) of supermarket French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes* 
tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
8 large eggs
2 ½ cups of whole milk
1 ½ cups of heavy cream
tablespoon granulated sugar
teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Topping

tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 ⅓ cups packed (9 ⅓ ounces) light brown sugar
tablespoons light corn syrup
cups pecans, chopped coarse

*For the best results use French or Italian sub rolls, as shown below.
IMG_1278
Instructions

For the Casserole:

Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread out over 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and light golden brown (about 25 minutes), switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. When done toasting, let the bread cool completely.

IMG_1285

Coat a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with the butter and pack the dried bread into the dish.

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Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined.

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Whisk in the milk, cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

IMG_1288IMG_1289 (1)

Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and press on the bread lightly to submerge.

For the Topping:

Stir the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until smooth, then stir in the pecans.  (I have found that, rather that “stirring,” you want to press your spoon down into the mixture, breaking the mixture down and incorporating it in the process.)

IMG_1293 (1)IMG_1294

Transfer the topping to an airtight container and wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the topping and casserole separately for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

To Serve: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the casserole and sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, breaking apart any large pieces with your fingers. Place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole

 

Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
 
My wife and I went to a potluck brunch a few weeks ago, and I wanted to bring something new. While I have made this french toast casserole, which comes from Cook's Illustrated, before, the people at the brunch we were going to had not had it, so I thought I would make it. What I like about this dish is that you can make it a day in advance, it is not that time consuming to make, and you don't need to serve it with any syrup. Within one hour of our arriving at the brunch, the french toast casserole was virtually gone. Quite a success, I'd say.
Ingredients
  • Casserole
  • 1 loaf (16-ounce) of supermarket French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes*
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 ½ cups of whole milk
  • 1 ½ cups of heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Topping
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ⅓ cups packed (9 ⅓ ounces) light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 cups pecans, chopped coarse
  • *For the best results use French or Italian sub rolls.
Instructions
  1. For the Casserole:
  2. Adjust 2 oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread out over 2 baking sheets and bake until dry and light golden brown (about 25 minutes), switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. When done toasting, let the bread cool completely.
  3. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with the butter and pack the dried bread into the dish. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined and then whisk in the milk, cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread and press on the bread lightly to submerge. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
  4. For the Topping:
  5. Stir the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup together until smooth, then stir in the pecans. (I have found that, rather that "stirring," you want to press your spoon down into the mixture, breaking the mixture down and incorporating it in the process.)
  6. Transfer the topping to an airtight container and wrap the dish tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the topping and casserole separately for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  7. To Serve: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the casserole and sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, breaking apart any large pieces with your fingers. Place the casserole on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until puffed and golden, about 1 hour. Serve immediately.

About Daddy

I am a husband and a father of two kids with whom I love to cook and eat. In this blog, I hope to share with you not only some of my, as well as my family’s, favorite recipes, but also some interesting things I have learned or done as a husband, father, and cook.

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