Monday, November 28, 2011

Overnight Blueberry French Toast

What holiday weekend would be complete without an indulgent breakfast or two? Or, in my case, four. By the time my husband and I got done working our way through the half dozen donuts from the Amish market (best donuts ever!) and the cinnamon buns we bought on impulse because they were in the day old section it was already Saturday and the loaf of bread I'd bought to make French toast had aged quite a bit. No worries, since the recipe I was planning to use would only be improved by the aging process. I wanted to make a French toast casserole I could prepare the night before and bake first thing in the morning, so the extra dryness of the bread only helped with the overnight soaking process.

I used a recipe for overnight blueberry French toast from Real Mom Kitchen as my jumping off point but made quite a few changes from the original recipe. For one, I omitted the blueberry syrup since I'm a traditionalist and prefer maple syrup instead. I also reduced the amount of cream cheese to four ounces since the entire package seemed to be an excessive amount. I like to save on calories and fat wherever I can and still got plenty of little bites of cream cheese in each serving. In addition, I couldn't bear to empty out the entire carton of eggs as the recipe called for 12 so I checked out some similar recipes online and based on those only used eight. I added a tiny bit more liquid to compensate but honestly couldn't tell anything was missing or wrong with the finished product as a result of that change. To enhance the flavor I added some vanilla extract and a dash of King Arthur Flour's unique citrus and vanilla flavoring, Fiori di Sicilia. Finally, because it was Thanksgiving weekend, I threw in some cranberries along with the blueberries for good measure and topped the entire thing with a dusting of cinnamon.

The dish does have to bake for an hour so it was good to be able to get all of the prep work done the night before. The end result was a perfectly baked dish with slightly crispy bites on top and moist bites from the middle. I had no problems with sogginess, as some French toast casserole recipes sometimes suffer from. The amount of fruit called for is perfect and those small bits of cream cheese are a clever addition. What I'm happiest with were my flavor additions as I really think they made the dish something special. I'll admit that I even had some for dessert later in the day because I couldn't stop craving it.

Overnight Blueberry French Toast
Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

12 slices bread, cut into cubes (I used a 16 oz. loaf of French bread, Texas toast also works well)
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)
8 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups milk (I used 1 1/4 cups skim milk and 1 cup cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more if desired)

Arrange 1/2 of the bread cubes in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Sprinkle cream cheese cubes, blueberries, and cranberries evenly over the bread cubes.
Top with remaining bread cubes.
Mix together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and Fiori di Sicilia.
Pour over bread cubes, sprinkle cinnamon on top, and cover pan with foil. Let chill in refrigerator overnight.
Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes or until fluffy and golden. Serve with maple syrup. Serves 8.

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the cape on the corner said...

heck yes this thing could be a dessert. it looks heavenly. i tried a new restaurant last weekend for lunch, and they had white chocolate and carmelized bananas french, yum.

Baye said...

Wish I had seen this before. It would have been great for Thanksgiving morning. To accommodate everyone's schedules, we didn't eat until after 5! It will be there for Xmas morning, though. Thanks for lightening it up and sharing!