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This dish, more a strata than anyone's traditional idea of French toast, is equally at home on the breakfast or dinner tables. It's a wonderful use for leftover bread. Don't feel you need to limit yourself to just one kind; use bits and pieces of stale baguettes, sandwich loaves, whole wheat, whatever.
12 slices bread, preferably a bit stale (1 loaf, 24 ounces)*
1/4 cup (2 ounces) Dijon-style mustard (optional)
1 pound sliced Canadian bacon or ham
1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes (10 to 12 ounces), thinly sliced
1 medium onion (4 to 5 ounces), thinly sliced
1/2 pound sliced or grated cheese (cheddar, Gruyere, or Swiss)
8 large eggs
3 cups (24 ounces) whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
*Use white, sourdough, whole wheat, or brioche loaves, or about 2 long baguettes, sliced about 1-inch thick; you'll need about 40 slices of baguette.
Heavily butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spread half of the bread with the mustard (if you're using it). Place them into the greased baking dish, mustard-side up. Top with the ham, tomato, onion, and about three-quarters of the cheese. Top with the remaining slices of bread.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture slowly over the bread, allowing it to seep into the cracks and crevices. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, cover the dish, and refrigerate it for several hours, or overnight.
About 1 hour before serving, preheat the oven to 400°F. Uncover the baking dish, and bake the French toast for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the eggs seem set. Check the dish after 30 minutes, and cover it lightly with aluminum foil if the top is getting too crisp or brown. Remove the French toast from the oven, allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then cut it into squares and serve. Yield: 6 to 10 servings.
Nutrition information per serving (1 piece, about 2 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches, 1/10 of recipe, 269g): 454 cal, 19g fat, 28g protein, 36g complex carbohydrates, 6g sugar, 3g dietary fiber, 227mg cholesterol, 1,623mg sodium, 499mg potassium, 185RE vitamin A, 7mg vitamin C, 3mg iron, 329mg calcium, 491mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XII, No. 2, Winter 2001 issue.