Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's Cookin?: Deep Dish French Toast

This is a real crowd pleaser. I made this once on my last visit to Las Vegas and my sister-in-law loved it. It's a great dish for a made ahead Sunday brunch!!

Deep Dish French Toast
Adapted from: David Leite (Leite's Culinaria)

butter (for greasing pan)

1 (24 oz.) brioche or challah loaf, cut into 1 inch cubes (really tastes better with these breads but in a pinch you can substitute french bread)

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, cut into small cubes

3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1/2 c. raisins (I used Trader Joe's Golden Berry Blend with golden raisins, cherries, cranberries & blueberries)

6 large eggs (original recipe calls for 8 eggs...yikes!)

2 c. milk

1/2 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

4 Tbsp. butter, melted

1) Generously butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place half the bread cubes in a single layer, filling in all the gaps. Evenly scatter the cream cheese cubes, nuts & raisins on top. cover completely with the remaining bread cubes.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Gently press down on the cubes with your palms to allow the top layer of bread to absorb the liquid. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hrs or overnight.

3) The morning of, take the dish out from the refrigerator and let sit for 20 min at room temp. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast covered for 20 min; uncover and bake for an additional 15-20 min longer or until the cubes are nicely toasted and there's no liquid pudding on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cool. Melt butter and drizzle over the french toast. Cut into squares and serve by itself or with maple syrup. (I sometimes skip all the melted butter and just do syrup).