Easy Baked French Toast

We talked recently about pancakes and waffles, but what about French toast? I will confess to not being the most enthusiastic morning person. So I'm a fan of recipes I can prepare the night before and then throw in the oven in the morning without much effort.

1 13- to 14-inch long loaf of soft-crust supermarket Italian bread
1/2 stick (2 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

to serve: maple syrup

TO PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE
Cut 12 (1-inch-thick) diagonal slices from bread, reserving ends for another use.

Generously butter 1 side of each slice and arrange slices, buttered sides up, in 1 layer in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit if necessary.

Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla until combined well, then pour evenly over bread. Cover top with plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, until bread has absorbed all of the custard.

TO BAKE
Position a rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 425°F.

Bring mixture to room temperature and sprinkle bread with sugar.

Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.

Here's what mine looked like after baking--I missed the opportunity to take a photo when it was still all puffy.

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32 thoughts on “Easy Baked French Toast”

    1. I made this one this morning. I made a half recipe because I didn't need a ton of this waiting for me tomorrow and the day after.

      I think the bread I got was a little too soft, and the finished product was definitely like bread pudding. That topping, though.

      Newbish loved it. The wife and I liked it a lot, but are thinking of trying it again with a slightly crusted bread.

      1. Woohoo! The finished product is definitely a bit bread pudding-esque. I've had really good luck with using a crusty, artisan-type wheat loaf for this recipe. It holds up well to all the liquid.

        If you have leftovers, I'd reheat them a toaster oven (if you have one). That will turn out much better than microwaving.

        1. If you have leftovers, I'd reheat them a toaster oven (if you have one)

          That's definitely the plan. Breakfast tomorrow for Newbish and I!

  1. Freedom French toast with Italian bread? Zut alors!

    I kid. This looks delicious. Making & cleaning up the mess ahead of time has its appeal, particularly with guests in the house. We have an electric griddle, which is how I usually make French toast.* I'm also not a morning person, so I typically need to get the coffee going before cooking breakfast. (Besides, sipping from a hot mug gives you something to do in between flipping sides.) Sometimes I'll add a little almond extract or microplaned fresh orange zest to the custard base. I'll bet this recipe would be awesome topped with chopped dried fruit (cranberries or cherries?) or little pieces of candied ginger.

    * When making a big mess of French toast, I frequently revert to short-order days and reach for the Texas toast. Last time we had guests, I could only find one variety, and that was only after looking hardin the second store I visited. Are we Northerners losing access to this important bread variation?

    1. I go for the Texas Toast too. Fortunately our local stores all carry at least one variety of it.

      1. Philo, as I was typing this up, I was thinking this was finally a recipe where you couldn't complain about there being weird, obscure ingredients. 😉

              1. I figured she'd have something (she always does), but I had no recollection of it myself.

                I'd also point out that that was hardly a complaint - it was a legitimate question regarding whether more universal ingredients would work. And then a series of humorous pokes, some of which were at Pepper's expense.

    2. Thanks for your thoughts on possible additions to the recipe, CH! I was thinking roasted strawberries would be a nice topping if someone wanted to go to a little more effort. Or maybe sautéed apples in the fall.

  2. Someone had shared an Alton Brown french toast video on the site some time ago... I don't recall much more though.

    This does look very good.

    I made stuffed french toast not all that long ago... that was awesome.

  3. Also, speaking of breakfast foods, today for lunch I made burgers topped with bacon and a fried egg. Fantastic.

    1. fried eggs are great on burgers. Also pretty darned good in calzones (you put 'em in raw and close up the calzone and bake, so, really, baked eggs). And in burritos (enclosed huevos rancheros, I guess).

      1. Calzones are pointless. They're just pizza that's harder to eat. No one likes them. Good day, sir.

    2. We have a breakfast burger on our weekend brunch menu. Half ground beef and half sausage. Topped with cheddar cheese, bacon and a sunny side up egg. Then, the best part, we give a side of Maple Aioli. My go to lunch every weekend!

  4. Looks yum, Pepper. What is the purpose of buttering the top side of the bread? To help it brown?

    1. I'm confused . . . you need a reason to use butter? Thinking about it, yes it's probably partially for browning. Since the recipe uses only milk (and no cream), I'd say it adds richness as well.

      By the way, I forgot to butter my pan, so the toast stuck a little. Not badly, but that's why it looks like it was beat up in the top photo.

      1. A variation* of this is a go-to weekend breakfast/brunch item at our house. We don't butter the bread, we butter the bottom of the pan because easier (and moar deliciousness):

        • 6 tablespoons butter
        • 3/4 cup (5.5 ounces) packed light or dark brown sugar
        • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

        1. Add butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir to combine. (This step can be done in a pan on the stove.)
        2. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray.
        3. Spread the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan and arrange the bread cubes in a single layer over the top.
        -> then, egg mixture over the top and into the fridge overnight. the recipe we use calls for flipping after 20 minutes of baking if you want 'caramelized' ... it's a sort of a PITA, but well worth the result. Good enough if you don't flip though.

        *we've had a lot of success with multiple recipes from this site.

  5. This recipe looks great. I will have to try it. When I make traditional french toast at home, I use our Hazelnut flavored creamer instead of milk, and it is ohhh... so good.

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