Today’s Recipes: Baked Blueberry French Toast with Blueberry Maple Syrup, Baked Orange French Toast, Baked Gingerbread French Toast, and Baked Cinnamon French Toast.
When the holidays roll around, I know that I will be baking and cooking for my friends and family. Planning ahead is the key to a stress-free season. Finding recipes that are easy and can be made ahead are my lifesavers. Today’s recipe is one of my favorites. Assemble this the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. Your guests will awaken to the smell of freshly baking French toast and warm Blueberry Maple syrup. I guarantee they will join you with smiles on their faces!
Everyone loves the blueberry version, but if you want more options, I have included several variations. For the holidays the Gingerbread and Cinnamon versions are especially appropriate and fun. The Orange variant is based on a breakfast that was made for me years ago. One of my best friend’s boyfriend wanted to surprise her for her birthday. Because he lived in another state, he flew in early and stayed at my apartment the night before the surprise party. In the morning he made me the most amazing orange French toast. All these years later and I can still remember how amazed I was that a houseguest made this incredibly delicious breakfast for me!
Bread puddings are much more than just desserts. They can be sweet or savory and can be served for any meal. In this case, you use the same basic concept for a make-ahead breakfast. With most of the work done, you can pop this in the oven when you get up and assemble the rest of breakfast while it bakes. Ham slices or bacon are always a nice counterpoint to the sweetness and fresh fruit or juice gives everyone a boost to their immune systems, often needed during the winter cold season.
This holiday season, give yourself a break and sleep in a little longer when you have this easy breakfast waiting!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When I have guests staying the weekend, I always set out the makings for coffee and tea, boxes of cereal, fresh fruit, silverware, and bowls the night before, so that if they get up before me, they can help themselves and relax comfortably.
- French Toast
- 1 loaf of rustic bread, crusts removed, and cut into 1-inch slices
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, divided
- 1 tsp vanilla to taste
- 1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted
- 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, rinsed and thawed if frozen
- Blueberry Maple Syrup
- 1-1/2 cups high quality Grade-A maple syrup
- 1 to 2 cups frozen blueberries, rinsed
- Powdered sugar, optional
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish with and arrange the bread slices in a single layer in the dish. If you prefer, you can also cut the bread into cubes.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, 1/2 cup of the brown sugar, and vanilla together. Pour over the bread. Cover and chill overnight. Don’t be concerned if there seems to be too much liquid. The bread will absorb it all by the morning.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Make Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup and blueberries. Warm gently and press on berries lightly to break some up if desired. Keep warm.
- Just before baking, sprinkle the remaining 1/4-cup brown sugar, the pecans, and blueberries over the bread. Bake the dish, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
- Cut into squares and place on warmed plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with warm Blueberry Maple syrup.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- Baked Orange French Toast - Use day-old raisin bread. Replace 1/2 cup of the milk with orange juice, reduce vanilla to 1/2 tsp, add 1 tbsp grated orange zest, and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. You can include the pecans if you want, but leave out the blueberries. Add a little orange zest to plain maple syrup when you are warming it if desired.
- Baked Gingerbread French Toast - Use cinnamon-swirl bread. Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg to milk mixture. Do not include the blueberries. Use plain maple syrup or add a little ground cinnamon and ginger while warming.
- Baked Cinnamon French Toast - Combine 1/2 cup melted butter with 1/2 cup brown sugar and spread in bottom of baking dish. Top with plain bread slices. Add 2 tbsp ground cinnamon to milk mixture. You can use the blueberries or leave them out. Serve with plain maple syrup.