I have a boatload of cookbooks and it’s no secret that I’m a recipe junkie. Of all the ones I own I have about three “go-to” books. My Pioneer Woman cookbook (she has some good down home recipes that I use as base recipes), my The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (has the BEST brownie recipe EVER and where I learned to make succotash) and…. a little treasure from our hometown, Treasured Recipes from Chase County. It’s a compilation of recipes from ladies in our community.
It’s my opinion that these cookbooks are, by and far, the greatest books of recipes. You KNOW these recipes have been passed down and made over and over and over, feeding husbands, kiddos, relatives and friends at many tables on many occasions. When ladies share their recipes for a community cookbook they only share the ones that are considered STAR recipes in their homes.
I turned to this cookbook for help with my second brunch dish choice. We already had a savory dish that would fulfill the “meat and potatoes” requirement. I wanted something sweet and decadent to compliment the Spicy Southwestern Muffins. In my search through the cookbook I found French Toast Bake from the kitchen of Mary Beth, who I felt reassured, would NOT let me down.
…and it DIDN’T!!! Everyone LOVED this one AND it turned out to be a very PRETTY dish as well. The ladies commented that they liked the crustiness of the crust on top and the custard-like consistency on the bottom. The blueberries added a balanced fruit flavor and the “pretty” factor. Not to mention…it matched the decorations. That part was PURE coincidence.
So, without further delay.
French Toast Bake
12 slices day-old French Bread (cut 1 inch thick)
2 1/2 cups milk
1 packed cup brown sugar, divided
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Layer the bread in two rows in a greased 9x13x2 baking dish. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, 3/4 cup brown sugar, vanilla and nutmeg; pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking to come to room temperature. If you like the nuts, sprinkle the pecans over the bread/egg mixture. Combine softened butter and remaining 1/4 cups brown sugar. Dot over the top of the bread slices. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with blueberries. Return to the oven and bake 10 more minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean and all the egg mixture has been absorbed. Serve warm.
This is NOT a healthful dish. I’m not even going to attempt at the calorie count on this one. This recipe is pure INDULGENCE!!!
My favorite part of this recipe was the “make ahead” factor!!! It was so nice to be able to put a dish together in almost it’s entirety in advance and have one less thing to worry about the day of the event.
Margo didn’t want me to add the nuts to this dish, so I omitted them. Personally, I agreed, but if you like the idea of pecans then go for it. I won’t judge.
After having tried this one and loving it I’d like to make it again, but substitute cinnamon for nutmeg. While the nutmeg was delicious, I can’t help, but wonder what cinnamon would be like. When my family is lucky enough for me to make them homemade french toast or pancakes I always add cinnamon to the mix.
Other than those few tidbits, I wouldn’t change a THING about this recipe. It was a crowd pleaser.
We had major leftovers on this one so along with the leftover muffins this went in the freezer as well. (I have a tendency to make too much food…) I think it’ll be a great re-heat dish as well. We shall see in a few weeks when Charlie gets here.
This one is PERFECT for the holidays. (Add raspberries or strawberries and it’s a great 4th of July dish…) Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
Peace, love and French-y feasts!!!