This dish is great for entertaining or lazy weekend mornings. Most of the work is done the night before, and you just add the topping and bake away in the morning. You can even leave easy instructions (bake for 40 min at 350) with someone at home if you want to run a few errands or go for a quick run before coming back to a tasty breakfast treat.
I made this with spice-rubbed turkey bacon last weekend, and served with maple syrup and orange juice. (I find that the pecan topping has enough flavor and syrup in it for me, so I don’t use additional maple syrup once it’s baked, but everyone is different!) It served our crowd of 8, with just enough leftover for Matt and me to have it the next morning for breakfast.
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 40 min
1 loaf French bread
6 large eggs
3 cups milk
or 2 cups milk + 1 cup half-and-half for a richer flavor
Zest + Juice of one medium orange
1 ½ tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pecan Topping (recipe follows)
1 ½ sticks butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tbsp. maple syrup
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Slice the French bread into ½ inch to ¾ inch slices. Arrange slices in the bakingdish until the dish is full, but not overly crammed (about 15 to 20 slices depending on the size). The bread will be overlapping.
In a large bowl, add eggs, milk, orange zest, orange juice, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk or use a hand mixer to blend until just combined. Pour the egg mixture over the slices of French bread, lifting up pieces as you go to make sure all the bread is covered. Spoon the egg mixture that is left in the bottom of the pan continuously over the bread to help it soak in for 2-3 minutes. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate overnight to allow the egg mixture to fully soak into the bread.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the French Toast from the refrigerator and uncover the pan.
In a medium bowl, combine all pecan topping ingredients and mix together. Pour the topping evenly over the bread slices and spread with a spatula.
Bake the French Toast for 40 minutes, or until the bread is puffy and golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.