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Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

There is perhaps no better occasion for an off-the-charts, blowout breakfast feast than Christmas morning. You’ve spent weeks decorating, making lists, buying gifts and wrapping. And in a flash, much like the letdown after waiting an hour in line to ride a 2-minute roller coaster, it’s over. The gifts have been opened and there is wrapping paper strewn about all over the floor. How fabulous to then meander into the kitchen and be able to sit down to a decadent, celebratory breakfast that took almost zero time in the morning? Ahh, the beauty of the make-ahead breakfast casserole. Today and tomorrow are dedicated to making your Christmas morning meal extra-special this year!

This French toast casserole is the epitome of indulgent, and I absolutely love it. Embrace it – Christmas only comes once a year!

You can assemble the casserole the day before, and the next morning all you need to do is top it with the praline topping (which takes less than 10 minutes to make) and then pop it into the oven. If you get your timing right, you can get it into the oven and then by the time you’re done opening presents, it will be ready and you can sit down to a beautiful, hot breakfast.

Do you have any Christmas breakfast traditions at your house?

One year ago: Mini Cheesecake Cookies
Four years ago: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Baked French Toast Casserole with Praline Topping

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes | Bake Time: 40 minutes

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash of salt

For the Praline Topping:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

1. Generously butter a 9×13-inch baking dish.

2. Slice the French bread into 20 one-inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices in the baking dish in two rows, overlapping the slices.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour the mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Make the Praline Topping: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well, using a pastry blended or your fingertips.

6. Spread the praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

(Recipe adapted from Paula Deen)

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