Apple French Toast Bake: (almost) instant breakfast

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“What’s for breakfast?”

You probably hear that plaintive query most mornings. But if you celebrate Christmas, at this time of year it’s more likely one you’re asking yourself: What’s the Christmas breakfast going to be this year?

Christmas breakfast has some very specific attributes. It has to be special; a bowl of oatmeal, even if steel-cut, won’t cut it. Pop Tarts and Cap’n Crunch? Put ‘em away.

Even more important, it has to be something you make ahead of time. There’s NO WAY you want to be flipping pancakes at the stove while everyone else is gathered around the tree.

Neither do you want to create a situation where your little darlings suddenly assume a grumpy air and tell you, “I’m STARVING. When are we going to eat?”

Christmas breakfast has to be more than normally yummy (preferably warm from the oven); and it HAS to be ready at the drop of a hat – or make that Christmas stocking.

The solution? A breakfast casserole. From savory Asparagus Strata to rich, sweet Praline French Toast, this comforting combination of bread, eggs, milk, and add-ins – ranging from sausage to mushrooms, fruit to chocolate chips – is an easy way to enjoy family time and still feed the troops when they’re ready and impatiently waiting.

Those last few days before Christmas can be beyond hectic; it’s a wonderful feeling to know that you’ve made breakfast, stashed it in the fridge, and all you have to do as the sun rises Christmas day is slide it into a hot oven, and a work-free hour later ceremoniously set it on the table.

Along with the bacon, which you’ve baked right alongside the casserole.

One of my favorites in this genre, Apple French Toast Bake, combines apples, cinnamon, maple syrup, and a baguette. Individual baguette rounds are easy to serve one or two at a time; no messy cutting and scooping necessary. And the tumble of soft, buttery, cinnamon-scented apples atop the sweetened, nutmeg-scented custard and bread is an experience far beyond cornflakes – wouldn’t you agree?

Lightly butter a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ baking pan or similar-sized casserole dish. Make sure the pan is at least 2″ deep; this casserole puffs up quite a bit as it bakes.

Slice a day-old baguette into 3/4″ to 1″ slices; you’ll need about 21 slices to fill the pan.

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Beat 8 large eggs in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Whisk in the following:

3 cups milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

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Pour this mixture over the bread, and let it soak in while you’re preparing the topping.

Peel and slice 5 to 6 apples (1 3/4 to 2 pounds fresh apples). Any type of apple is fine, though I prefer a crisp, tart apple (e.g., Granny Smith) rather than a softer one (e.g., Cortland).

Toss the apples with the following:

1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons maple syrup
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons melted butter

Spread the apples over the bread in the pan.

OK, decision time: do you want to bake this now, or later?

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To bake the French toast right away, preheat the oven to 375°F. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the apples are soft and the eggs set. The apples on top will never really brown; that’s OK.

To bake up to 48 hours later, cover the pan with plastic or foil, and refrigerate. When you’re ready, bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 60 to 70 minutes.

Remove the French toast from the oven, and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar or cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

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Or drizzle with maple syrup.

Or do both, as I’ve done here. Nothing succeeds like excess!

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Serve in all its singular glory. Or dish it up with bacon, to feed your salty-sweet side.

Truthfully? This isn’t a rock star in the looks department. But the tender/crisp apples atop soft bread and custard, and the complementary flavors of cinnamon and maple and apple (and bacon!) make it a dish whose beauty is in the eating, rather than the beholding.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Apple French Toast Bake.

Print just the recipe.

 

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Paul from Ohio

    Now THAT is a keeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeper! Let’s see now, how to reduce it to serve two, but then again, I’m thinking portions of it might freeze well? Yum. (and I’m always doing my bacon in the oven per a previous blog – love it).

    Reply
  2. waikikirie

    I’m with Paul from Ohio……2 servings, freezer portions, way to go……Paul got me thinking…..maybe add bacon to the recipe. Everything’s better with bacon, no??? xooxoxxo Merry Christmas everyone.

    Reply
  3. Anne Marie

    make the larger batch and put individual servings in glass jam jars :D Couldn’t hurt to try. Bake and freeze or freeze and bake. :D

    I make this but instead of the apple topping I use my canned apple pie filling from earlier in fall, or the preserved blueberries….or strawberries….or… Bwahahahhaaaaa! DROOL!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The maple syrup (or your boiled cider suggestion) amount is 2 tablespoons. Sounds like you believe there’s no such thing as too much apple – so we’re looking forward to your baked and tasted results! Happy Baking – Irene@KAF

  4. Virginia Small

    Just finished making this dish and look forward to baking it tomorrow morning; what a treat! I am really fussy about apples when I bake, so I have to disagree with your apple choice. Folks always ask what kind of apples I use. Over the years, I have used Granny Smith exactly twice. Both times there were leftovers that never got finished. They just have no apple flavor and taste sour; my friends and family expect better of me. I bake with apples when they are in season and always use a variety instead of one type. Usually include Macoun, Empire, Cortland, when they are really firm, and sometimes throw in a Honey Crisp to round out the flavor. The apples have to be firm or I won’t buy them. If I am going to invest my time in baking, I am fussy about the ingredients.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Virginia, sounds like you’re an apple connoisseur! I usually suggest Granny Smith as that’s what most people can get, and I don’t want people using Delicious for baking; I think Granny Smith are a nice average apple, but to each his own. Personally, I like baking with Northern Spy, as I like the way they hold their shape and retain some “bite.” Ginger Gold are good, too – will have to try Honey Crisp sometime. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here – PJH

  5. Julie

    Why not red delicious apples? I’ve used them for apple sauce and other recipes and don’t add sugar or cut back on the amt of sugar.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Julie, they become too soft during baking for my taste. They’re fine for applesauce, but when sliced/bake, I like an apple that retains some bite. No right or wrong here – simply personal preference, so absolutely use whatever apples you like. Cheers – PJH

  6. Anna Predoti

    Made this for Christmas Brunch and loved it! My guests also loved it. I used cinnamon bread and Granny Smith apples and would do that again. I think the cinnamon bread added more flavor. I find some Baked French Toast to be rather bland, but not this one!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Oh, Anna, LOVE where you took this recipe, using the cinnamon bread – genius! I’m absolutely trying that next time. Thanks for sharing – PJH

  7. Layne

    I made it and the leftovers went into the trash. The dish tasted like two separate dishes. The French toast was mushy and eggy and the apple slices were tart and crispy. I followed the recipe exactly and I was disappointed.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re disappointed as well, gentle baker. Using a day old baguette for the base should have been sturdy enough to hold the apples, yet bake up nicely for the custard underpinnings. Thanks for your frank review. Irene@KAF

  8. Lori

    This morning, with some leftover baguette to use up, I googled baked apple french toast and found your recipe. I only had enough bread for an 8×8 dish, so I halved the recipe. Delicious! Breakfast today and leftovers tomorrow for the two of us. I’ve pinned this for future use.

    Reply

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