Baked French Toast Casserole

Baked French Toast Casserolebutter (for preparing baking dish)
1 loaf French bread
8 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Prepare 9x13 baking dish by generously buttering the entire dish.  Set baking dish aside.  Slice French bread, on the bias approximately 1-inch thick. Arrange slices in your prepared baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. Set dish aside.  

In a large bowl, whisk eggs.  Add half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and whisk until blended but not too bubbly. 

Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure they are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. I like to make sure all my slices are good and coated.  Even dunking them in the mixture sometimes.

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Scoop out praline topping and make 8 dollops of topping.

Then spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread (like you are icing a cake) and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Serve with a dollop of butter (room temperature)

Praline Topping 
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 cup chopped pecans 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.

COOK'S NOTES:  We have been enjoying this recipe for 4 years.  I have made a few changes.  I have lowered the milk/cream that was originally called for, as the bread was sometimes coming out too moist for my taste.  

Half and Half is a dairy product called for in the USA.  You can substitute half cream and half milk for half and half.  You can also use any combination of all cream to all milk as long as you are adding 2 cups total.

For the praline topping, the recipe used to include corn syrup.  It really doesn't need it, so I have eliminated it. 

This french toast casserole is amazing served with fresh berries instead of the praline topping if you are looking to lighten it up.

The left overs freeze VERY well!  We eat about 1/4 of the pan.  I freeze the left overs in 3 containers, so when we want a special breakfast I just thaw it and pop it in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.  Perfect.   

Recipe developed by Donna Elick - The Slow Roasted Italian
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