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One dish French toast casserole, easily prepped the night before and baked in the morning.
And just about as timely as my very first make ahead meal, this make ahead overnight French toast casserole comes at about the same time as that one did… Just three weeks after bringing our first kiddo home to our house.
There is something about three weeks into newborn-hood.
Ohhh, something so so special.
Sleep deprivation for a week is rough. Another week on top of that is a bit worse.
Add a third? Then we’re talking real sleepy.
And thankfully, all that sleeplessness subsides a bit eventually, but until it does: food you can make ahead of time, perhaps while you have a crying, cluster-feeding newborn strapped into a carrier in the evening and then bake in the morning when you’re feeling hungry and desperate for a meal, should be a staple in your kitchen.
Oh, and hopefully some people are bringing you some meals, because that is a godsend with a newborn. GODSEND.
Shoutout to my SIL who brought us EPIC breakfast burritos this week and also a pan of meatballs with rolls for subs. We had breakfast and lunch for 3 days thanks to her!
And another shoutout to my work girlfriends for visiting earlier this week with hoagies and chips in hand, gin and tonic (they know me so well), and fruchewy candy. Y’all are my people!
OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE GREAT FOR FEEDING A CROWD
This overnight French toast casserole is perfect for newborn life, but also…
or any time you need to have a lot of food for a lot of people and don’t want to slave over a stovetop, dipping bread slices into an egg wash and waiting to flip each piece at the perfect time.
This is the easy peasy way to French toast, and it’s just as delicious as the individually sliced kind.
In order to get the best French toast casserole possible, you’ll need to start with stale bread.
START WITH STALE BREAD FOR FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE
Why? More dry places for the egg custard to go.
Fresh bread won’t work quite the same and you’ll find yourself with some goopy French toast casserole instead of soft in the center with a crispy exterior.
What do I do if I don’t have stale bread?
Cut up a fresh loaf and let it sit out on the counter all day. Cut the bread in the morning, start the casserole in the evening, bake it the next morning.
You’ll spend a whole 24 hours with your casserole, but the hands-on time is seriously minimal. Only about 20 minutes in total!
As for the egg custard, we’re amping up the flavor with some brown sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Feel free to add more spices like nutmeg and ginger if you’re into them.
This is definitely not a “set-in-stone” recipe when it comes to the flavors. You could also use some almond extract in place of the vanilla, if you’re feeling extra fancy.
WHOLE MILK IS THE BEST MILK FOR FRENCH TOAST
The only thing I really suggest sticking to is the milk– whole! Since we have a toddler, whole milk is pretty plentiful around our house, but if it’s not where you live, I highly suggest making some space in your fridge for some.
High fat = high flavor in this French toast game!
The total bake time on this bad boy is 60-70 minutes, so you can wake up, pop this in the oven, and then by the time you’re ready to start functioning, breakfast is piping hot and ready to eat.
You’ll be left with soft bites of custardy French toast, topped with crispy pieces that sat on the top of the whole shebang. And leftovers? Toast them in the toaster oven and you’re in for a real treat.
I certainly miss waking up before the rest of my house on the weekends and enjoying my coffee before I have to interact with anyone. That pesky little newborn dictates my mornings right now, but I remember that will be a distant memory in probably just a few months.
“The days are long but the years are short.” I’ve realized that yes, this is indeed true, as our first born will be 2 in just 2 weeks, and it feels like we were just planning his first birthday party, at which point, I totally believed he was such a cool kid.
And he’s even cooler now.
I’m holding onto these thoughts as I trudge through the throes of the newborn stage, as I shovel French toast casserole into my mouth while nursing my tiny human.
We can do this, we can do this, we can do this…
Make Ahead Meal: Overnight French Toast Casserole
- 10-12 ounces stale* challah, brioche, or other crusty bread cut into large cubes (about 8-9 cups of bread)
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk any, but I prefer whole cow
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Spray a 2 quart casserole or 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray. Place the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk again until everything is completely combined.
- Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cover with a lid or foil, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake the casserole for 60 to 70 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the egg mixture looks set. Baked casserole freezes well, up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, and reheat portions as needed. You can also freeze unbaked casserole unbaked, up to 3 months-- freeze after step 3, then thaw in refrigerator overnight before continuing with step 4.