Whew! That was a mouthful! As is this tasty dish!
Every Christmas morning, I make an Overnight French Toast casserole. Why? Because I’m lazy. Also, because I want to be with my kids while they open and enjoy their gifts, not in the kitchen cooking. Also, I’m lazy. Pop Tarts don’t seem like an appropriate Christmas breakfast. So, 15 years ago or so, I came upon this epiphany. Put something in the oven in the morning, and it’s done when they’re done opening gifts. The timing is amazing, and all I have to do is turn the oven on when I wake up. Easy!
Of course, you could have this ANY day. Like the day I wrote this blog post and my family got it for dinner so that I could post it. *snicker* That also explains why my photos deteriorate as the recipe progresses… I was running out of light!
I make a different kind every year. I’m not sure I’ve ever made it exactly the same twice, in fact. So, this is a brand new one that I created just for this post. Also another reason I made it on Wednesday for a Monday blog post… I needed to make sure it was good first. It was!
This was born of my current obsession of cranberry/orange, along with my lifelong love of pecans. I’m thrilled with how it turned out, so lets do this thing!
Combine brown sugar, melted butter and orange peel and pour into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish. It might be more of a “spread” situation, it will be pretty thick.
Sprinkle chopped pecans and Craisins over brown sugar mixture.
Arrange slices of bread. Really jam them in there. I usually use Challah, but I wasn’t sure you’d have access to Challah, and I didn’t want to make you bake bread first, so I used one of those fun sword-shaped loaves of French bread.
Combine milk, eggs, vanilla, salt and cinnamon in a bowl, and pour evenly over bread.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. 8-12 hours is ideal. You could push it to 4 if you are one of those last minute people still up wrapping gifts at 2am and then suddenly realize you never made the casserole.
When you wake up, turn the oven on, and remove the casserole from the refrigerator for 10 minutes while it preheats. Cover it with aluminum foil, bake for 20 minutes, remove foil, bake another 25-30 until it starts to brown and is set and all that good stuff.
You could stop there and it would be stunning. But this is me talking. I also made a delicious orange syrup for the top. Recipe follows the other recipe. It’s all one recipe. You’ll see it. When I made mine, it was pretty sweet, so I cut the amount of sugar down for the recipe I posted here. I’m your guinea pig. Or you could simply sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. And/or maple syrup. It’s your world!
Cranberry Orange Pecan Overnight French Toast
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 loaf french bread (or Challah!) cut into 1 1/2″ thick slices
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, melted butter and orange rind, and spread on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle pecans and cranberries on top of butter and sugar mixture. Arrange slices of bread on top of cranberries and pecans. Combine milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and pour evenly over bread.
Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate 8-12 hours or overnight.
In the morning, remove the casserole from refrigerator for 10 minutes, and preheat oven to 350°F.
Remove plastic wrap and cover with foil. Bake for 25 minutes, covered, remove foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and completely set. Allow to cool slightly while preparing syrup.
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or orange)
Combine orange juice, corn syrup, sugar, butter and orange rind in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.