cranberry orange baked french toast

cranberry orange baked french toast As I see it, the ideal Christmas morning (or holiday morning, as in New Year’s Day, as in tomorrow) breakfast should be festive tasting, not requiring too much effort, and do-ahead, if possible. (Although I certainly don’t regret the New Year’s Day I made glazed doughnuts for breakfast.) I’ve made this baked french toast several times before, as it is a perfect do-ahead, delicious crowd-pleaser. This time, I included a few twists: boosted its festive appeal by adding orange zest, almond extract, and nutmeg to the custard, making it reminiscent of eggnog; dotted the french toast with tart, jewel-like cranberries; and added wintry spices to the streusel. You’ll notice that baked french toast is suspiciously similar to bread pudding, so it tastes accordingly decadent.
behind the scenes of the chaos[Above, behind-the-scenes of the chaos. Please note the stray cranberries and disheveled background. Christmas morning at its finest.]
streusel-ed and ready to be baked Today is the last day of the year, which means that everyone gets sentimental and says that this year has had its ups and downs but has truly flown by. Which, I must say, is true. Goodbye 2013, and cheers to a great 2014.
that went fast Christmas morning breakfast

Cranberry Orange Baked French Toast
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon baked french toast

As I’ve said, this is an excellent do-ahead; in fact, you must refrigerate it a couple hours for the bread to soak up the custard mixture, so overnight is perfect. I scattered the cranberries on top in the morning, but you could just as easily scatter them in the pan with the bread cubes if you want them more evenly dispersed. However, with the sprinkling-on-top method, I liked that the cranberries stayed tart.

Makes 9 x 13 pan of french toast, around 8-12 servings

1 loaf French Bread, or another crusty bread*
6 eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream (half-and-half also works)
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2-1 teaspoon fresh orange zest, to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 ounces fresh cranberries, roughly chopped

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2  cup (1 stick) cold butter, cubed

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, orange zest, nutmeg, and salt. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Toss butter cubes into the dry ingredients and cut and rub them into the mixture until it starts clumping together and resembling streusel. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

When you’re ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 350° F. Remove french toast from the fridge and sprinkle chopped cranberries and the crumb mixture over the top. Bake for around 1 hour or until browned on the top and set in the middle.

*The bread is best if stale, as it’s better able absorb the custard mixture. If your bread is fresh, as mine was, stale by popping it in a low oven for a few minutes.

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One response to “cranberry orange baked french toast

  1. what a wonderful recipe and timely post! Happy New Year!

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