Amazing that it's even called "French Toast" as French Toast wasn't even created in France! In fact, it was created well before France even existed! Did you realize? All I know is I'm grateful the Romans, yes the Romans were thoughtful enough to design a recipe to utilize bread from the day before in a way that we consider and appreciate to be a staple on so many breakfast menus! It's hard to believe this are the origins. In fact, the similar recipe can be found in the book of Apicius from the 5th century BC. The Romans dipped slices of bread in milk (and sometimes eggs) before frying them, and called it “Pan Dulcis.” Who knew?
Origins aside, it's one of the greatest ways to use up bread that might not be the greatest for a sandwich or just to eat on it's own, and where this version isn't traditional in preparation either, it's awesome in taste and fantastic if needing a recipe to feed a crowd.
The recipe too is very very flexible, so know that when pulling it together. If you don't have the exact ingredients, orange extract for example, just double the vanilla instead. Or even substituting something like almond extract for the orange would definitely work as well.
The topping calls for nuts and I'm leaving that also wide open considering what you might have to work with in your own pantry. Consider this a bit of a clean up dish that is easily pulled together based on what you might have on hand.
What would be tasty served along side? My recommendation would be some thick cut bacon or your favorite spicy breakfast sausage links or patties. Some fresh fruit would be very refreshing and top it all with a bottle of bubbly and some mimosas made with orange or guava juice! I'm making myself hungry as I type! Okay, so here's how you make the tastiest baked french toast on the range!
- 1 loaf (12 ounces) French bread, cut in 1-inch slices
- 8 large eggs
- 1 c. whole milk
- 1 c. half-and-half cream
- 2 t. vanilla extract
- 1 t. orange extract
- ½ t. ground nutmeg
- ½ t. ground cinnamon
- ½ t. ground cloves
- 1-1/3 c. dark brown sugar, packed
- ¾ c. salted butter, softened
- 3 T. maple syrup
- 1-1/3 c. chopped pecans or walnuts
Fill a well-greased 13x9-in. baking dish with bread slices to within 1/2 in. of top; set aside. In a blender, combine the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, orange extract, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves; cover and process until blended. Pour over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Meanwhile, combine topping ingredients. Spread over top. Bake, uncovered, at 350° until puffed and golden, 50-55 minutes. (Cover with foil if top browns too quickly.)
Serves 8-10Adapted from: A Taste of Home