aka Bread Pudding, Baked French Toast Bits, Breakfast Custard Casserole, ...
If ever there was a way to guarantee a smiling start to a morning, this might be it. It worked for us on Monday. Some sort of culinary magic occurred in the oven when a few ordinary ingredients were transformed into decadent morsels of sheer delight. Magic? how else could the last few slices of French bread, a few eggs, some vanilla with cinnamon and sugar plus a handful of cranberries turn into something SO INCREDIBLY TASTY?! Do I sound enthusiastic? Oh yes, this is the new alternative to my usual fruit, yogurt and granola breakfast.
RL reported he much preferred this dish to a typical French toast, in fact "...don't bother making the regular kind again." I was captivated by the contrast between a crunchy crust and the creamy, custardy center. Sweet but not too sweet, the flavor pleased both of us, though a drizzle of warm maple syrup was a welcome addition.
|Photo: Note the crunchy browned crust... yum!|
- *Try using a wider, flatter dish or even muffin tins to increase the ratio of crunchy to creamy.
*It's important to use bread that is several days old and a bit dried out, or to lightly toast the cubes before adding the egg mixture.
*Let the prepared dish sit a bit (or even overnight) before baking to allow the bread to soak up the flavored liquid, and rest a few minutes after baking to firm up any loose custard.
Sweet Breakfast Strata
Serves 22 cups small bread cubes, day old, or I suppose even stuffing mix works
(I used sliced French bread, left from dinner last night)
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used orange-flavored cranberries)
butter to grease the baking dish
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F .
- Grease the bottom and sides of a 4-cup baking dish with butter.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk and seasonings until well blended and frothy. Add the bread cubes and gently mix with a rubber spatula until all sides of the bread cubes are coated. Add the cranberries; toss to mix.
- Turn the mixture into the buttered baking dish, pressing down firmly with the rubber spatula (but don't smoosh it out too flat!).
- Rest for 20-30 minutes so the bread absorbs much of the liquid, then bake in a preheated 350 F oven for 30 minutes or so, until the top is golden brown and crunchy.
- Remove from the oven and let the dish sit for 5 minutes to firm up the custard.
- Serve plain, or accompanied by heated syrup or a scoop of honey-flavored yogurt. (Certain unnamed relatives would say it requires a scoop or two of ice cream alongside.)