Saturday morning breakfast has to be my favorite meal of the week. Usually it involves Eric and I cooking something together that’s too involved to make before he leaves for work. We usually rotate between chocolate chip scones, cream biscuits and sausage gravy and cheddar cheese biscuits because we usually have everything we need for those recipes. Sometimes, though, an involved breakfast isn’t possible even on the weekends. That’s when we turn to this recipe. Baked French toast is made the night before and is perfect for times when you don’t want to be standing over a skillet flipping French toast all morning. We usually make this at Christmas because it allows us to spend more time taking pictures and seeing family instead of being in the kitchen. We recently had visitors (friends one weekend and family the next), and we wanted to spend as much time with them as possible. So we prepped this the night before we needed it and popped it into the oven the next morning.
French toast can be just so-so when done wrong, but that’s not a problem with this version. Even though the bread sits overnight in the custard, it doesn’t get too soggy or eggy. The bread absorbs the custard but still gets toasted and lightly browned in the oven. The best part is that the pan is coated in a melted butter and brown sugar mixture that basically caramelizes in the oven. So when you flip your French toast out of the dish, it’s like it already has syrup on it. This is so decadent that it really doesn’t need anything else, but you could certainly drizzle it with maple syrup or dust it with confectioners’ sugar to take it over the top. Plus, since it’s so easy to make, you can enjoy it even on a weekday.
Just a few notes: We used a cinnamon swirl loaf from a local bakery one time we made this, and it was more amazing than I can say. However, the brioche we used the second time around was nearly as delicious. The recipe says that this should serve eight people, but that hasn’t been the case for us. I’d say it’s more a four to six person serving, at least with the way we eat breakfast around here. :)
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange the bread slices in the dish. (It’s fine if they overlap.) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and allow it to soak in. Top with pecans and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 and up to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350º. Set the dish out for about 20 minutes while the oven is preheating. Bake until browned and set, about 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.