Cranberry Walnut Make-ahead Breakfast Casserole

Having family and friends over has got to be simultaneously one of the best and one of the most challenging parts of the holiday season. I love the dinners and parties and potlucks, but when you’ve got overnight guests feeding everyone breakfast can be a bit of a challenge. The solution? Make ahead breakfast casserole!

One of our favorites is the overnight French Toast / Strata / Bread Pudding approach, which is great because it also uses up old bread. You cube the bread, layer it into a buttered casserole dish along with some other ingredients, and then pour an egg custard over top. It goes into the fridge for an overnight soak, and when breakfast times rolls around all you need to do it pull it out of the fridge and pop it into the oven.

In this particular version, we’ve paired a delicious sourdough rye bread with dried cranberries, toasty walnuts, orange, and a touch of ginger for a seasonal flare. It’s sweetened with maple syrup and a bit of orange juice, which goes well with the subtle flavor and tang of the sourdough rye bread.

This recipe serves 4 people generously, but it easily doubles (or triples!) if you’re feeding a crowd. Leftovers will last several days in your fridge, or, you can wrap squares in foil and tuck them away in the freezer for breakfast on a busy morning. You’ll thank yourself!

 

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Cranberry Walnut Make-ahead Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cubed sourdough rye
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

Instructions

  1. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared pan. Scatter half of the walnuts and half of the cranberries over top. Repeat with the remaining bread, walnuts, and cranberries.
  3. Whisk together the maple syrup, orange juice, ginger, eggs, and milk.
  4. Pour the wet mixture over the bread and shake the pan to distribute evenly.
  5. Cover the loaf pan in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to sit overnight.
  6. When you are ready to bake, Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  7. Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes, until puffed and golden on top. Check that the center is cooked through.
  8. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  9. Serve warm or room temperature.

Comments

This recipe has way too much sugar and starch. I would NEVER use it. I buy fresh cranberries the day after Thanksgiving when they are half price and freeze them to use the rest of the year. I would NEVER buy sugared-up dried cranberries at all. I have never had maple syrup in my cupboard but I do use maple extract without sugars. I stopped eating high starch bread on 6-3-2013 and saved my kidneys from dialysis. She and I learned very different things in our nutrition and biochemistry classes about the bad unhealthy things about too much sugar (including “natural sugars” which are metabolized exactly the way added sugars are) and starch. But I doubt this comment will make it to the comment section.

I don’t like wasting bread heels and traditional stuffing/dressing has too much bread in proportion to good stuff. I adapted this with an extra egg and more (fresh!) cranberries, a little bit of sugar but no syrup, and more walnuts. I also used whole-grain bread. A big hit, with ingredients we have on hand.

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