Thursday, September 4, 2008
There is something so delightful about a lazy day brunch, catching up with family or friends while enjoying a delicious meal. My favorite way to put such an event together is by doing as much of the prep work ahead of time. This allows me to actually relax and chat with my company.
Pretty much every country with a strong bread culture has a version of French Toast. It's a great way to use up old bread and turn it into a tasty treat. The French call it Pain Perdu (lost bread). A favorite "quatres heures"(4 o'clock) or "gouter", France's official snack time for kids when I was growing up, was to soak thick slices of old baguette into milk, then dip it in an egg mixture. My older siblings would pan fry it in lots of butter and plate it. We would sprinkle some confectioner sugar on top. The white powder contrasting ever so slightly with the beautiful golden hue of the toast. My mouth would water as I watched eagerly for the sugar shower to end and permission to dig in.
This casserole is perfect for entertaining. It requires to be assembled the night before and comes together really easily.
The delicate orange flavor mixed in with the caramelized custard makes this dish a creme brulee-french toast hybrid. People who avoid wheat or gluten will be thrilled to indulge in french toast again by using my recipe forAlmost Challah (omit the sesame seeds).
French Toast Casserole (serves 8)
Use regular store bought challah, egg bread or brioche bread if you are not concerned about gluten or wheat.
3 whole eggs
2/3 cups egg whites
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 tablespoon agave nectar, or honey
1/4 tsp of salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
8 to 12-- 3/4 inch thick slices of Almost Challah (sesame seeds omitted) or other challah bread. Enough to cover a 13x9 casserole dish.
The night before serving:
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, egg whites, milk, cream, vanilla extract, orange zest, agave nectar or honey and salt.
In a small pan, melt the brown sugar and butter until smooth. Transfer sugar-butter mixture to a pre-oiled lasagna dish (13 x 9 inches). Arrange the slices of challah over it and cover the surface. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Cover, weight down with another dish to submerge the bread and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 375F and take the casserole out of the fridge.
Remove cover and bake for 40 minutes or until edges come slightly away from dish and the french toast casserole is golden. The top is encrusted with the orange zest and the bottom is surrounded by a delectable caramel custard. You can serve it with either side up. Fresh fruits are a nice addition to this lovely meal.
Enjoy these other related recipes:
Candied Orange Muffins with Rosemary
Eggs with Asian Tomato Salad
Chocolate Almond Raspberry Muffins