Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Baked French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole, with Egg Bread

Baked French Toast Casserole

This is great for brunch.  It's easier than preparing French toast right on the spot.  I think egg bread makes it taste sweeter than white bread. 

Serves 8-10.

(recipe can be easily halved for a 9" x9" pan)

Small piece of egg bread, cut thin
 Egg bread (or challah)-- 12 smaller or 8 larger pieces, sliced into ¾ inch slices  
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Dash salt

For serving:
Maple syrup, warmed
½ cup to 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Fresh fruit (like strawberries), optional

The night before:
Spray the pan well with butter-flavored spray, or grease pan with butter. Cut slices into one inch cubes. If you’re in a hurry, tear the bread into small pieces. However, the cut cubes look nicer. Place bread cubes in bottom of the pan. The idea is to cover the bottom of the pan evenly.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Beat with a rotary beater or whisk until well blended but not too frothy. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. You may want to press down on the bread cubes, to make sure they are all covered with milk-egg mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees(F). Remove casserole from refrigerator and place on counter while the oven preheats, about 15 minutes. Place the casserole, still covered with foil, on the middle rack. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake an additional 25-30 minutes—or until the casserole is puffy and brown.

Let cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing into squares. Serve topped with warmed maple syrup, chopped pecans, and optional fruit (berries are nice). 

Topped with maple syrup, pecans, and strawberries!

Feel free to adapt this recipe to your tastes!  You may want to use more or less egg bread, or different flavorings.

I hope this recipe helps make your brunch even more special!  It's really easier to put together the casserole the night before, and just put it into the oven.  That way, you don't have to make the batter and fry the slices at while everyone is waiting.  You can be preparing other breakfast items in the meantime.

Come back soon, I'll be baking and creating again.  I hope you will leave a comment below; I'd love to hear from you.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Chocolate-Raisin Babka

"Does rum go bad when kept for a long time?" I asked the local liquor store.

"No," the gal said, with a small laugh.  "it doesn't go bad.  It stores well."

And that's how my ingredient shopping began for the AB5 Chocolate-Raisin Babka.  You see, rum (yum!) is brushed on top of the slightly cooled loaf!  But I don't drink very often.  However, I have been eyeing this recipe for a very long time, and finally decided to make it.  I had read that "babka" translates as "grandmother," so this sounded like something really special.

Ready to bake!
I purchased a small bottle of rum and some high quality Ghiradelli  semi-sweet chocolate.  I had heard that chopped chocolate melts better than chocolate chips.
Rather than make a full four-loaf batch of this recipe (and use 16 egg yolks!), one loaf was made.  I used the egg whites in an omelette for lunch.

Dough rolled out, filling added

There didn't seem like enough chocolate and raisins in the recipe, so I tripled the amount.

Next time, I'll add some sort of sugar--maybe brown sugar.

The dough was rolled into a log, and placed into a 9" x 5" loaf pan.  With the back of my hand, I patted the loaf pan into an even shape.

Next time, I might use an 8 1/2" loaf pan to make a higher rise.

It felt odd not to brush the loaf with egg wash, but I knew that the rum would be brushed on at the end.

Here's the partially-cooled loaf, after brushing rum onto the top.  The rum really soaked into the crust.
The inside of the loaf looked like a cinnamon-raisin loaf.

This was an interesting bread.  Personally, I think of a very sweet cake-like dessert when I think of babka.  This tastes very much like a bread, but not something you would use for a sandwich.  If I make it again, I will probably make it much sweeter.

Thank you very much for stopping by.  I would love to hear your comments.  Have you made this bread?

Check back soon, I'll be baking soon!