Berry Baked French Toast

This is a recipe I adapted from a friend back in Idaho - she wrote a cookbook that included master mixes.  This is a variation on the one she shared - sans the mix.  We save it for once a year on Christmas - since you  make it the night before, it makes for an easy and yummy meal after all the presents have been opened!

1 loaf of day old French Bread, cubed
1/2 to 1 brick cream cheese (Joel likes less, I like more)
small pkg. mixed berries
1 banana, diced
2 C. milk
7 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1 C. sugar

Place 1/2 of the cubed bread in a greased 9x13 glass casserole pan.  Spread fruit and cream cheese (broken into small pieces) all over the bread.  Top with remaining bread.  Mix the milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar - pour over the top of bread.  Make sure all of the bread is saturated with the custard - I just use my (clean) fingers and poke it all down.  Then cover it with plastic wrap and something heavy (I use another glass dish) and refrigerate overnight.  The next morning, bake @ 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Cut like you would a cake and serve with regular maple syrup, or our favorite, Fruit syrup:

1 C. of fruit, pureed (I've substituted jam, works great, just super sugary...but hey, it's Christmas, right? :)
1 C. of sugar
1/2 C. water

Put all in small saucepan, bring to a boil. Serve warm. Syrup leftovers can be stored up to 2 weeks in fridge.

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