I love to treat my family to a special breakfast on the weekends since our weekday meals consist mostly of cereal, yogurt, and orange juice. I mistakenly fed them some leftovers of a sinful baked french toast casserole I made for a brunch event. Though delicious, the original recipe I followed was much more like a dessert than a breakfast food. Unfortunately, my family loved it for exactly that reason and it tops their list for most requested special weekend breakfast dish.
So, I started messing around with the recipe to see if I could get the same flavor without using all the sugar, cream, and butter called for in the original recipe. It took a lot of less-than-perfect batches before I finally perfected it. Guests always assume this version is just as sinful as the original when I make it for them because it truly does have all the same creaminess and sweetness of a dessert. I won’t go so far as to call it “healthy” but it’s certainly a less unhealthy version of a delicious breakfast indulgence.
When I make it for my family, I typically serve it with fresh berries or frozen berries boiled into a compote, along with turkey bacon (to compensate for the butter in the French Toast).
Every once in a while, I’ll splurge on a different loaf to make the French Toast more interesting. In the version pictured below I used a Cinnamon Raisin loaf from Panera. Since we were really splurging, I let the kids count the raisins at fruit and I made regular bacon for the side.
- 1 loaf French bread (cut into 1-inch slices)
- 4 eggs
- 1½ cups fat-free milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 T maple syrup
- Spray a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange bread slices in the bottom of the dish. You will have bread leftover which you can use to make a second casserole, for bread crumbs, or garlic bread later.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk together until well mixed. Pour over bread slices, coating each slice. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, preheat oven to 350°. While the oven is heating, combine the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Melt over medium heat and cook until bubbling. Add maple syrup and stir well. Pour mixture over bread and egg mixture.
- Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.