There are two camps of Mother’s Day revelers: those who like nothing better than a sumptuous brunch/lunch/dinner at a restaurant, and those hoping for a cozy celebration enjoyed with a pair of fluffy slippers.
I wouldn’t be sad about either option, but if I woke up to the smell of French Toast Casserole (made by a member of my family other than me) baking in the oven, I’d be a happy mom indeed.
This french toast casserole is basically a layer, which is a layered dish of eggs, milk, and bread, plus whatever other flavorings you choose to spice it up with. Stratas can be sweet, topped with chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate or liquor, or savory, layered with cheese, ham, etc. This one is on the sweeter side and so much easier to make for a group than individual slices of French Toast.
It’s a great brunch for a lazy weekend morning because all the work (and there’s not much) gets done the night before. In the morning, simply pop from the fridge into the oven and slice fresh fruit or do whatever you like while a hearty and luxurious breakfast prepares itself.
It’s the ultimate make-ahead meal that actually needs to be made at least 8 hours in advance to give the bread time to soak up all the sweet egg batter. You could also bake it the night before, then put the cooked casserole in the fridge and reheat it in the morning. However, reheating the cooked casserole takes about 20-25 minutes; It only takes about half an hour to cook the whole thing, so it doesn’t save much time. Nevertheless, it is good to know that leftovers can be reheated in the microwave or oven.
And kids, even little kids, can help! You can pretty much put the whole casserole together, although an adult will need to decide if they’re old enough to help cut the bread. Children can also choose which dried fruits or nuts they want to add to the casserole.
Try using slightly stale challah bread, which because it’s dry, takes the milk and egg custard better. If your bread is fresh, slice it and let it sit for a few hours to lightly dry, or even lightly toast in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 5 minutes.
If you’re going for all the indulgent Mother’s Day brunch vibe, why not add a cocktail into the mix? An orange champagne “mule” is just the ticket.
Simply combine the juice of 1 orange and 1 lime with 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of chilled vodka and 4 ounces (½ cup) of chilled ginger beer in a small pitcher or measuring cup. Divide the liquid between two champagne glasses. Top up with about 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of chilled champagne, prosecco, or other sparkling wine at a time. Garnish with orange slices and sprigs of fresh mint and serve chilled.
Good morning and cheers to all moms out there! (And to me: Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!)
FRENCH KEYTOP FOR MOTHER’S DAY
Butter or nonstick spray to grease the casserole dish
4 cups milk, preferably whole milk or 2%
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup raisins, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts (optional)
1 large loaf of challah bread, preferably 1 or 2 days old, cut into ¾ to 1 inch thick slices
maple syrup; fresh fruit such as berries or sliced peaches or pears; and/or powdered sugar
1. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with butter or spray with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in fruit or nuts if needed.
3. Place half of the bread in the pan in a single layer, slicing the bread so it forms a solid layer. Pour half of the milk mixture over the bread, making sure to evenly distribute at least half of the added fruit or nuts.
4. Repeat, creating a second layer of bread, then pour the rest of the milk mixture over it, again evenly distributing any fruit or nuts. Gently press the bread into the liquid.
4. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight. The bread absorbs almost all of the milk mixture. Uncover the casserole dish and if any dry-looking bits are on top, gently tuck them under the bread on the bottom so the more soaked bits are now on top (a bit messy, but it all works when baking). Note that any dried fruit that sits on top of the casserole will be quite chewy and the fruit that goes inside the casserole will be softer, so spread out the fruit as you see fit.
5. Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake the French toast, uncovered, until puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes to firm up a bit. Cut into squares and serve with your choice of maple syrup, fresh fruit and/or powdered sugar.
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