Overnight French Toast

Overnight French Toast

I’m a real sucker for any sort of breakfast carb, especially when I’m out to eat. Challah French toast. Lemon-ricotta pancakes. Blueberry-cornmeal hotcakes. You name it. If it’s floured, fried and dripping in syrup, it has my name all over it.

Like the mussels, these are dishes I rarely make at home. Laboring over a fickle griddle is one deterrent for me. Timing is another. It’s nearly impossible to get enough pancakes and French toast and waffles out at the same time to serve everyone at once.

And you know what? I’m sort of tired of reading this line in recipes: “Place finished pancakes on a plate in a 200ºF oven to keep warm while you finish cooking.” We all know that after 20 minutes in a 200ºF oven, warm soggy disks are what remain. These foods are best eaten hot off the griddle. It’s a quandary for sure.

The solution? Well, I don’t have one for pancakes. But I do for French toast: Bake it. And start it the night before. This is the easiest French toast you will ever make, and I believe it’s one of the best, too. It’s crisp on the exterior and moist but by no means soggy on the interior. It emerges from the oven piping hot yielding enough, at the very least, for four eaters.

This recipe hails from the November 2000 issue of Gourmet — oh Gourmet how I miss you — and is a nice one to have in your file. Father’s Day is right around the corner … this might be a nice treat for everyone involved.

Just out of the oven, baked French toast:
Overnight French Toast, Out of the Oven

Overnight Baked French Toast

Serves 4 to 6

1 (13- to 14-inch-long) loaf of soft-crust bakery-style Italian bread*
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tablespoons sugar
*Notes: My mom uses “Toasting White” (Pepperidge Farm, I believe). My aunt uses a dense bakery-style loaf of Italian bread, which is what I’ve used here — density is key. I like both breads with this preparation, however.

Accompaniments: maple syrup, berries and powdered sugar if desired

1. Cut about six to eight — enough to fit your pan — one-inch-thick diagonal slices of bread.

2. Generously butter one side of each slice and arrange slices, buttered sides up, in one layer in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit if necessary.

3. Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined well, then pour evenly over bread. Chill, covered, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least one hour and up to one day, depending on bread.

4. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring mixture to room temperature and sprinkle bread with sugar.

5. Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes, or longer — make sure it’s nice and golden on top or it will be soggy in the middle. Serve immediately with fruit and syrup and powdered sugar if desired.

After a night in the fridge, the bread absorbs all of the liquid:
French Toast, unbaked

16 Comments

  1. I have always skippe dover baked french toast recipes. I just assumed they are more like a pudding than a good, hot-off-the-griddle french toast, but these certainly look the part! Browned and crunchy on the outside and ccreamy in the middle-I am going to have to try it out now. :)

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  2. i, too, am a lover of all things bready for breakfast, and that’s including everything you mentioned and ESPECIALLY cinnamon rolls. i love the overnight version of those and i’m sure i’d love the overnight version of this magnificent toast. well done, alexandra!

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  3. I just posted a comment on one of your older recipes, the blueberry muffins, which were totally delicious. This recipe will be next on my list! It is such a pleasure to find recipes which seem to fit our tastes.

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  4. When I (very briefly) worked as a brunch cook we did overnight French toast, using slightly stale challah from the bakery. Probably overkill with the two layers of egg, but it was awfully good.

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  5. I made this yesterday for a brunch my niece was having for a christening party. The toasts were crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. It was an easy recipe to prepare, even when we were in church all morning. Thank you so much for offering this recipe at just the right time.

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  6. This sounds yummmmy. My solution for pancakes: two griddles at once. Gets them all to the table in half the time, and isn’t much harder to manage at the stove. One more pan to wash, but worth it.

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  7. I made this for a christening brunch a few months ago and now I am going to make this for Christmas brunch. It is absolutely delicious and just like regular french toast. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  8. Just made this up last night using a fresh loaf of Artisan bread – our favorite bread for this recipe … I even sprinkled some diced apple on top … who knew Monday Morning French Toast could be so easy? Thanks for the recipe! It has quickly become a family favorite!

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