I featured this inexpensive and fool-proof recipe in my college student’s guide to hosting Easter brunch. The article was published in today’s issue of The Daily Trojan, and you can access it online here.
As far as brunch goes, French toast is both a quintessential menu item and a source of frustration. Brunch should be relaxed and carefree, the epitome of a decadent hybrid meal between breakfast and lunch. Why spend time leaning over the stove, flipping individual pieces of bread, while your guests drink mimosas in the backyard? That sounds like no fun to me.
Baked cinnamon French toast is a delicious one-pan solution to this problem. The recipe can be assembled in less than fifteen minutes using ingredients you probably already have on-hand.
Even the most inexperienced cook can execute this impressive dish. Simply toast the bread, coat each slice with butter and cinnamon-sugar, arrange them in one pan, and pour the custard over.
Layering the toasts creates a caramelized, golden exterior and a moist and creamy interior. Cut into thick slabs and topped with fresh berries and maple syrup, this French toast would be an outstanding recipe to serve to family and friends on Easter Sunday.
Recipe courtesy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 16 slices (from a 1-pound or 450 gram loaf) white sandwich bread
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 cups whole or 2% milk
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Yields 8-12 servings.
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small dish. Line two large baking sheets with foil. Place the bread slices on the baking sheets in one layer. Spread each slice of bread with 1 teaspoon of butter, then sprinkle each slice with one teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toast the trays of bread in the oven until the bread is golden, and until the cinnamon-sugar makes a caramelized crunch on top, for about 7 to 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees and let the toast cool slightly.
2. Generously butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. Cut two slices of the cinnamon toast in half horizontally. Arrange the baking dish so that the longer side is horizontal to you on the counter. Place the bottom half of a divided slice of cinnamon toast in the upper left-hand corner, cut side facing left. Arrange the first full slice of toast on top of it, so that the upper crust of the slice meets the left side of the pan. Arrange six more slices across the top of the pan, crusts in the same direction, overlapping each slightly. Finish with the top of a divided slice of toast. Repeat with the second row, toasts facing in the opposite direction, starting and finishing with your second divided slice of toast.
3. Whisk the milk, eggs, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl and pour evenly over the cinnamon toast in the baking dish. Let sit for 15 minutes (or overnight, if you’re preparing this ahead of time) so that the custard absorbs.
4. Before baking, sprinkle any leftover cinnamon-sugar over the French toast. Bake for 30 minutes, until puffed and golden and until no liquid seeps out of the toasts when you nudge them in the pan. Cut into squares and serve plain, or with a dollop of yogurt and fresh berries, or maple syrup.