Baked French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping
Breakfast in our house is usually a quick bowl of cereal or a smoothie, so when I made this recipe, it was for dinner. And why not? Breakfast for dinner has been a staple in our house ever since the triplets were little. Sometimes, the best meals are served with warm Vermont Maple Syrup.
Happy baking, hon.
Ingredients for the French Toast:
9 cups (455 grams) challah, brioche or other soft bread cut in 1-inch cubes, preferably day old (from a large, 1-pound loaf)
butter, for the baking dish
8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) whole milk
1/2 cup (118 milliliters) heavy cream or creme fraiche
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) honey
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Ingredients for the Topping:
1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (30 grams) rolled oats (or use chopped nuts or sliced almonds)
1/3 cup (67 grams) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (114 grams) cold, unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
1 large or 2 small pears, peeled or unpeeled as desired, cored and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
Ingredients for the Honey-Vanilla Syrup (Optional):
1/2 cup (118 milliliters) honey
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread bread crumbs out and toast until lightly golden, 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool. (Tip-err on less time since oven is so hot.)
2. Generously butter a 2-quart casserole or 9 by 13-inch baking dish and fill with bread crumbs.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, honey, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom and salt until smooth. Pour over bread, tossing well. Press down on bread so it forms an even layer that is mostly submerged in custard. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight (or up to 48 hours ahead).
4. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Prepare the topping: In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. You can also pulse the topping ingredients together in a food processor if you’d rather. (The topping can be prepared up to 48 hours in advance; store covered in the refrigerator until needed.)
6. Spread diced pears, if using, evenly over the top of the bread, then cover with crumble mixture. Bake until golden and firm, 40 to 50 minutes. If you’d like a crunchier crust, broil for the final 1 to 2 minutes. Or leave the topping softer; it’s good both ways.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup, if desired. In a small saucepan, combine honey and 1 to 2 tablespoons water, depending on how thick you want the syrup to be. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add seeds to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let the vanilla infuse for at least 10 minutes. (Syrup can be made up to 1 week ahead.) Serve the French toast warm with the honey-vanilla syrup, or maple syrup.
Yield: 12 servings