A couple of years ago, my friend Dianne hosted a brunch. I think it was on New Year’s Day. In any case, there was a lot of delicious food there, but what everyone kept coming back to was a big pan of gooey, decadent brown-sugar-topped French toast.
Happily, our hostess declared it easy-peasy and photocopied the recipe for me (though my copy is missing the right margin, leading to some interpretation difficulties). I made it for Christmas Eve breakfast this year, and it was just as delicious as I remembered – and as easy as Dianne said it was.
Throw this together in 10 minutes the night before a special breakfast. In the hour it takes to heat the oven and bake the French toast, you can comb your hair, make coffee, slice up some fruit, and set the table. Don’t put out the maple syrup, though – this French toast is great just as it is.
Overnight Brown-Sugar French Toast
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
10-12 slices potato bread or sliced challah, cut in half
1.5 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
The night before you plan to serve, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside. Spray a 9×13-inch lasagna pan with cooking spray (forget this step and suffer retribution from whoever has to wash the dishes). Layer the bread into the pan in rows. Whisk together the eggs and milk (and optional extract) and pour over the bread. Spread the brown-sugar mixture on top, and sprinkle with pecans if desired. Cover and refrigerate.
The next morning, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast, uncovered, for 45 minutes. The top will be hot and bubbly. Serve on warm plates, or just toss the pan on the table and let people serve themselves. Serves 6.