French Toast Casserole
This recipe is prepared the night before Christmas while Santa is busy putting presents under the tree. I prepare it, then pop it in the oven on Christmas morning as soon as the kids wake us up to go downstairs to open presents. By the time they are finished opening presents, breakfast is ready to be served. We get a perfect homemade breakfast without having to spend much time in the kitchen on Christmas day. This recipe was also the inspiration for my Christmas Breakfast Cookie (featured on The Great Holiday Baking Show). You can find this recipe here.
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 loaf of bread (about 20 slices or less if thicker bread is used)
1 1/4 - cup brown sugar
1.5 - tsp cinnamon
1/2 - tsp nutmeg
5 - eggs
3/4 cup milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (optional but I recommend it)
Start by cooking the bacon. I like to cook my bacon on a cooling rack that is inside a larger pan in the oven for 30 min at 350. For this recipe I cook it about 20 min until just cooked but not quite crispy. It can also be cooked on the stove-top. No matter what method you use to cook the bacon, cook until just done as it will be cooked again the next day.
While the bacon is cooling, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg). In another bowl mix the eggs, milk, cream, paste and extract together. Melt the butter in the microwave and pour it in a 9x 13. Cut each piece of bread into strips. Layer bottom of pan with a third the bread pieces. Sprinkle 1/3 of the brown sugar mix over the bread. Layer the second third of bread and top with 1/3 of brown sugar mix. Add the last layer of bread and pour the egg mixture over the bread slices. Make sure you cover all the pieces of bread. Chop the bacon and add about ½ cup of chopped cooked bacon (or more if you are a bacon lover) to the top of the bread. Sprinkle remaining brown sugar on top. Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, remove from the refrigerator and bake (still covered in foil) in a preheated oven at 350 for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake 15 more minutes until brown and set. Take out and enjoy with powdered sugar or syrup (my family likes both).