Time flies when you are having fun. It also flies by when you are scrambling to finish out a school year amidst baseball season and various doctor appointments. I can’t believe it is time again already for another installment of the Secret Recipe Club!
This month I was given a fellow Ph=the ‘F’ sound food blogger in Wendy over at La Phemme Phoodie. Clearly, we have tasted in common.
It didn’t stop with the name though, and I have to admit I’m a bit jealous of Wendy’s gluten-free and healthy eating attitudes. I struggle to eat healthy and mainly try to see how much sugar I can survive on… plus some caffeine thrown in. My friends refer to it as my ‘self-medicating’. I’m ok with that.
I was still snagged on one recipe in particular on Wendy’s blog that was different than other similar recipes I have made. I think that my love of all things French Toast has been sufficiently documented here on the blog. That said, there is always room for one more.
What struck me as different about Wendy’s recipe for Bourbon Vanilla French Toast Casserole was the fact that the sugar is made into a caramel-y syrup and poured over the custard soaked bread just before baking. Again, clearly, we have plenty in common since sugar coating most anything I’m going to laughingly refer to as ‘nutrition’ is right up my alley!
I made a half batch with a very crusty baguette and wasn’t disappointed in the amount of crunchy, crusty, vanilla flavored french toast casserole I was treated too. It didn’t really need any further gilding of the lily when it was time to eat, so I just dug in as is, with a little bowl of berries on the side for an extra treat.
Sugar Crusted Vanilla French Toast
Adapted from La Phemme Phoodie
1 smallish baguette or crusty loaf of bread, cut into 1-inch slices (about 1 lb loaf)
FOR THE CUSTARD:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
FOR THE SUGAR COATING:
1/2 cup (1 stick or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Day Ahead:
Butter a 9×9-inch pan on the bottom and sides. Place the bread slices, standing up, in the pan. Set aside while preparing the custard.
In a large measuring cup or pitcher, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and salt until well combined. Pour the mixture evenly over all the bread slices in the pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the french toast casserole from the refrigerator and set it on a baking sheet.
In a large microwave safe bowl or heat proof large glass measuring cup, melt the butter in the microwave till just melted (about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on high). Add the brown sugar and corn syrup, whisk well to combine. Microwave on high again in 30-second bursts (two to three times should be enough) till the sugar is melted and the mixture is bubbly and hot. Gently whisk in the vanilla extract. (Alternatively, you can do this process in a pan on your stovetop.)
Carefully and evenly pour the sugar mixture over the french toast casserole, covering each slice well. Place the casserole, on the baking sheet, into the oven and bake until puffy all across the pan like a good bread pudding, and is golden and baked through, about 40 to 45 minutes depending on how packed your pan was. The casserole will deflate as it cools. Serve warm with mixed berries.