New Years Day breakfast: french toast and bacon

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)


Lisa Marsh

Mom to two sets of twins.

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