Up your French toast game

French toast casse­role

Orlando Sentinel - - COOKING & EATING - By Patty Catalno

If you’re look­ing for a sweet break­fast bake to build a tra­di­tion around, this French toast casse­role is it. Cus­tard-soaked bread is fla­vored with sweet cin­na­mon and nut­meg, topped with a nutty crum­ble top­ping, and baked un­til golden and steam­ing. The best part is, it’s as ver­sa­tile as you need it to be — you can make it ahead or as­sem­ble at the last minute.

Here’s how to do it.

The best bread: I like to use a crusty sour­dough loaf, which has a hearty, chewy tex­ture that stands up well to soak­ing — and doesn’t have to be dried or stale (al­though if you’ve got day-old bread, use it!). Sour­dough bread also has a sub­tle sour tang, which bal­ances the sweet­ness of the cus­tard and crum­ble top­ping.

The best way to pre­pare the bread is by tear­ing it into bite­sized pieces. The ir­reg­u­larly shaped pieces have a greater sur­face area for ab­sorb­ing the cus­tard and nes­tle into one an­other so the in­te­rior bakes up rich and ten­der while the jagged edges brown and crisp.

A ra­tio to re­mem­ber: Com­mit just three in­gre­di­ents to mem­ory — 3 cups dairy, 8 large eggs, 1 pound bread — for the best French toast casse­role. Whisk the dairy and eggs to­gether, then sweeten with brown su­gar and add spices like vanilla, cin­na­mon, nut­meg and salt for a classic French toast fla­vor. You can also make it your own by swap­ping in honey, citrus zest and other sweet spices. Use half-and-half in the cus­tard or com­bine equal parts heavy cream and whole milk.

To make this the very best make-ahead break­fast, add a sweet and nutty crum­ble top­ping. Serve with a driz­zle of warm maple syrup and a dust­ing of pow­dered su­gar to turn your kitchen into the hottest brunch spot in town.

JOE LINGEMAN Makes: 4 1 8 3 1 1 2 1. Place 2. Coat

The fin­ish­ing touch:

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