For New Years Day I thought it might be nice to have a somewhat special breakfast, but I didn't want to spend all morning making it. I've read a few recipes lately for french toast that is assembled the night before and baked in the oven in the morning - sounds like my kind of easy meal. I'm picky about my french toast though - because I make really good french toast. I read several recipes that have you soak the bread in a casserole dish overnight and then just put that casserole directly in the oven, but some of the reviews I read said that this can get soggy.
Another recipe on one of my favorite food blogs used different technique - transferring the slices of bread to baking sheets for coooking, so they bake individually and develop a crust. I thought that sounded pretty good so I based mine loosely off her direction. I won't claim to have used her recipe, but I did use her technique.
I started with:
- two loaves of bread: one was brioche and the other was a cranberry walnut loaf - sliced thick, about 1.5 inches
- one dozen eggs
- zest of one orange
- maybe 1 1/2 cups milk, and a splash of cream
- approx 2 teaspoons vanilla
- approx 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- a splash of cognac
I combined all the liquid ingredients, and poured the mixture evenly over the sliced bread. I flipped them once before going to bed and let them soak it all up overnight. Almost all the liquid was absorbed by morning. Then I layed them out on parchment covered baking sheets and baked at 325 (convection) for 35 minutes, turning at 15 minutes.
They had a nice brown color and crispy crust. What suprised me a little was that they were not nearly as moist and custardy in the center as I would have expected. I did use a lot less milk than her recipe, but more eggs - that's how I usually do my french toasts and they are always very moist inside. I like it very eggy. This was also different bread than I usually use - normally I use challa. I thought I could use my usual custard ingredients and ratio and just apply this technique, but maybe the oven baking requires more moisture to start with. I don't know how these pieces of bread could have absorbed more - they seemed awfully wet before cooking. Don't get me wrong - this was really good french toast - but maybe not quite as good as what I usually do on a Sunday morning. I'll keep working on it.
Oh - and am I the only person that didn't know about cooking bacon in the oven? I've always done it in a frying pan. I heard about this just recently and I am converted. Perfectly cooked, and totally hands off. 400 degrees for about 12 - 15 minutes.
The recipe I started with did these with a brullee sugar crust. But we are basic butter and real maple syrup people. (and I'm not going to try burning sugar with four kids at my feet)