Friday, December 30, 2011

Cinnamon Baked French Toast

It's that time of year when we all evaluate our lives and make promises to do more, be better and generally strive for self improvement.  Although I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions, this year I am firmly in the camp of wanting to be the best person I can be.  With that said, I like to idea of adding more to the list than the obligatory exercise more, eat better, etc.  I like the idea of improving my mental being as well as my physical being.  For example, just look at this photo!  I wanted to jump off the sofa and make this french toast the minute I saw this image.  While French toast may not fall into the "eat better" category, it got me thinking.  I've been blogging for a couple of years now and while I love cooking and exploring new recipes, I've done a meager job at best at depicting the food.  Borrowed (forgive me all you expert photographers) photos generally grace this blog.  Resolution in the making.  Learn how to use the good camera I insisted we buy and start representing my own food, my own children and my own life more frequently, realistically and beautifully.  I'm up for the challenge as soon as I get off the treadmill, steam some kale and read War & Peace.   

Thankfully this recipe is not challenging and so basic in its goodness - bread, sugar, cream, eggs that it seemed fitting to serve on Christmas morning.  Santa's elves were fat, happy and dreaming of resolutions for 2012. 

1 loaf Crusty French Bread
8 whole Eggs
2 cups Whole Milk
1/2 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
3/4 cups Sugar
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Cold Butter, Cut Into Pieces
Fresh Fruit (optional)

Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter. Cut bread into cubes and evenly distribute in the pan.
Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and but into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.
When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove casserole from oven and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. (If you're using fruit, sprinkle on before the crumb mixture.) Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture.  Serve with butter and drizzle with syrup if desired.
Recipe and photo by The Pioneer Woman

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