Christmas Breakfast: Baked French Toast Casserole

It’s Tuesday and I only have 2 more work days until my own personal Christmas Vacation! I am so excited for the holidays. Last night I left Shaun at home and met up with Lindsey (of Two Girls, Two Pies) for a little ladies night to celebrate her newly engagedness! We did a little shopping on Fifth Avenue and then had a low key dinner at Chat ‘n Chew at Union Square, complete with macaroni & cheese and red wine. Perfection, no?

L and me, circa 2007

It’s no secret that I love breakfast (Don’t believe me? See this, this and this.). While Shaun is of the savory mind (read: he only likes eggs for breakfast), I don’t mind getting a little sweet. And since Christmas just isn’t decadent enough on it’s own, I felt it necessary to introduce a Christmas morning breakfast tradition a few years back (you know, in addition to all of the cookies). It’s the one time of year that I can justify this absolute glutton of a dish. It’s a baked French toast casserole, inspired by the Queen of All Things Butter herself, Ms. Paula Deen. After the first year that I made this dish, a bonafide Christmas morning tradition was born.

Hearty, nutty, sweet, it’s everything a good French toast should be. It’s moist but not too eggy. The buttery topping is rich, but hey, it’s Christmas. Am I right or am I right? This is all not even to mention that since you prepare it the night before and pop it into the oven to bake on Christmas morning makes it a snap to put together on the big day. You know, so you don’t miss a second of present giving and opening.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping
*Adapted from Paula Deen
For the casserole:
1 loaf French bread, sliced
2 C half and half
1 C milk
8 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
Butter, for baking dish
For the praline topping:
2 sticks butter, softened
1 C light brown sugar (I used Splenda blend)
1 C chopped pecans
2 tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg

In a 13x9 inch buttered baking dish, layer the slices of French bread until the entire pan is filled. (Note: For this version, I used a combo of French bread and special bread that my mom and dad eat - it works just as well).

In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, half and half, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Whisk altogether, breaking up the eggs and incorporating the entire mixture together. Pour all over the bread, making sure to get it in between the slices.

 

Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, quickly make the topping. You can also make it the night before, but it may be cold and more difficult to spread over the casserole. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, pecans, corn syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg. I threw it altogether in a stand mixer, but if the butter is soft enough it can easily be done by hand. Spread all over the top of the casserole. Bake for 45 minutes. Serve, enjoy and smile because it’s Christmas!

Though it’s so not necessary, I serve mine along with some real maple syrup. Why stop at cream, eggs and carbs?

So there you have it. A little peak at one of our Christmas traditions. Now tell me some of yours! What are your favorite Christmas traditions?