Discovering a universally adored breakfast is like striking gold in our lively household. Our family’s treasure? My French Toast Casserole smothered in brown butter buttermilk syrup and homemade whipped cream. It simply can’t be beat. The proof is in the pudding as this is one of only two dishes that has permanently earned a spot on our Christmas morning menu (and you know how big of a deal Christmas is among the Mamians)!
Much of the prep work is done the night before making the morning of a breeze and freeing up the chef (aka mom in our house) to spend time with loved ones rather than locked away in the kitchen. This French Toast Casserole is so special to our family, and I can’t wait to share it with you below I hope it will become a dish that your family makes their own special memories around.
How to Make My Favorite French Toast Casserole
The best thing about French Toast Casserole is that all of the “hard work” happens the night before. The process begins with ripping up the brioche bread. The brioche bread is essential for a rich, indulgent texture in my opinion. Then, I grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and lay down the brioche chunks.
Next, in a large bowl, whisk together the quintessential elements – eggs, milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste. The vanilla bean paste is not just an ingredient; it’s a nod to elegance, infusing the mixture with its signature specks and aroma. This luscious mixture is then poured over the brioche, ensuring all of the bread is evenly coated, and placed in the fridge to absorb the flavors overnight. This step is what creates the sweet, custard-like base.
The topping is another layer of love: flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt, combined with cold, cubed butter. We mix these ingredients until they come together. Store this separately in the fridge overnight.
The Morning Magic
Having soaked overnight, the French Toast Casserole is ready for its final transformation. While you preheat the oven to 350°F, sprinkle the topping evenly over the casserole. It is going to create a beautiful, crumbly texture on top.
Then bake the casserole for 45 minutes to an hour. You can choose the timing based on how you desire the texture – slightly less for a softer, more custard-like center, or a bit longer for a firmer, more golden crust.
Once out of the oven, it’s a warm, inviting centerpiece on our breakfast table. In our house, each kiddo adds their personal touch. Our daughter loves to pile on fresh berries, adding bursts of color and natural sweetness. For our youngest, it’s all about the homemade whipped cream, adding a cloud-like, creamy topping to their slice. My teens even like to crumble some bacon on top. Chocolate chips, banana slices, or a berry compote would also be great additions.
But for me, the ultimate finishing touch is a generous drizzle of homemade brown butter buttermilk syrup! It’s so good, it doesn’t need anything more.
Step-by-Step Recipe and Ingredients List
- Thick-cut brioche bread slices ripped into pieces
- 2 cups of milk
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste
- 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter, cold and cubed
- Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and arrange the brioche chunks inside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, and vanilla bean paste. Pour this mixture over the brioche, ensuring all the chunks are covered. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
- For the topping, in a separate bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Add the cold, cubed butter and mix together. Store this topping in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Remove the bread from the refrigerator and sprinkle the topping evenly over it.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your desired consistency (less time for softer, more for firmer).
- Serve warm, and enjoy with your choice of maple syrup or additional butter.
Our French Toast Casserole isn’t just for Christmas – it’s perfect for sleepovers, birthdays, and any day that calls for a bit of special. It’s the kind of meal that gets everyone, from the picky eaters to the food enthusiasts, excited.
It’s more than just food; it’s about the fun and love we share, not only on festive occasions but every time we gather around the table. This dish has woven itself into our family’s story, making every occasion a bit more joyful and memorable.
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear what you think in the comments!
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