There are a lot of "bests" involved in being a kid on holiday mornings, but most of my favorite memories revolve around sitting at the breakfast table eating pancakes or French toast or some other special occasion meal that my parents whipped up. Now that I'm an adult, I still love sitting around the breakfast table and indulging in the kind of meal that takes a little bit more effort than cereal and milk, but now I'm the one responsible for getting up early and getting it on the table before hangriness takes over my household. Seriously, I don't know how my parents did it all those years!
Enter: the overnight French toast casserole. AKA total breakfast lifesaver. Basically, it involves throwing a bunch of ingredients into a pan the night before, letting them sit in the fridge overnight, and then baking them off the next morning. The beauty in this is that the bread actually requires that long soak so that it's extra luscious and creamy on the inside even after a stint in the oven.
In order to add a little extra holiday/winter cheer to this French toast bake, the custard is flavored with pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice. In addition, fresh or frozen cranberries are strewn on top just before baking to add some sweet-tart juiciness to the mix. Served with a drizzle of maple syrup, this is the perfect way to make your winter mornings feel more warm and cozy - but without all the fuss!
- 1 loaf day-old challah bread sliced
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
- 12- ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
- Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place the bread slices in the pan in layers and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Pour the milk mixture over the bread slices, pushing the bread down so that they absorb the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, heat oven to 350ºF. Remove the plastic wrap and scatter the cranberries over the top of the French toast bake, trying to tuck them into as many crevices as possible. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until cooked through and set. Serve warm with maple syrup, butter, and powdered sugar.