Easy Baked Tsoureki (challah/brioche) French Toast
Baked french toast casserole with custardy brioche and loaded with berries. Day old slices of tsoureki/brioche bread soaked in a sweet spiced custard mixture then baked until golden and crisp.
How to make baked French toast?
Baked French toast is a favorite in our house and me make it almost every long weekend. It’s easy to make. All you need are basic ingredients to make it. You cut up day old bread, place it in a buttered dish then whisk up a quick custard to pour over. You can top it with fruit or a crumble or leave as is and then bake until the edges are golden and crisp.
What bread to use in baked French toast?
The choice is really yours. A yeasted bread like tsoureki, brioche or challah yields heartier, thick French toast. Yeasted breads usually have some sugar and eggs added to the dough already so you get a richer taste and denser interior. It tends to be more of a custardy baked French toast. The same goes for croissant or babka French toasts. Make sure and check out my croissant French toast recipe as well. Crusty French bread or sourdough loaves can also be used for a less sweet and lighter texture with very crispy edges. Cutting the bread into smaller pieces allows it to soak up more of the custard. Whatever you choose to use will be delicious. The key is to make sure it’s day old bread for the best texture. Feel free to toast or dry it out on a sheet Pan in the oven on low heat for a few minutes. This will help prevent a soggy bottomed baked French toast.
How to make the custard for baked French toast
The custard is basically eggs and milk or cream and I always love to add flavor to mine by adding either vanilla extract or almond extract and some spices. I also include either sugar, honey or maple syrup to add a bit of sweetness. Whisk everything together really well and then this is the mixture you dip your bread into if using slices and what you pour over your bread after it’s in the dish.
What can I add to my French toast?
The options are truly endless. I love adding berries. But you can add other things too like a bit of pumpkin purée (½ cup) to your custard or even sweetened cream cheese (6 ounces) in between layers to have pockets of creaminess in your French toast or even fruit preserves. You can also add chocolate chips and nuts (½ cup) to it too. Feel free to get creative. When it comes to toppings I kept this one simple with sliced almonds but when I do my crusty bread version I do a streusel topping over it and it’s just the best. Once you have your French toast in order in your dish the key to getting it the perfect texture is to cover it and let it set in the fridge for 1 hour or even up to overnight making this a great thing to prep the night before you want to serve it.
It comes together so quickly and is such a treat to enjoy for breakfast or brunch. It’s customizable and leftovers can easily be reheated in the oven or pan fried in a bit of butter the next day. We serve it with a dusting of powered sugar and maple syrup. But it’s great with whip cream as well and extra fruit on these side. Hope you enjoy it!
- 1 large day old bread (tsoureki or any brioche, challah, crusty sourdough or French bread), sliced into ½-¾ inch slices (approx 1 lb)
- 6 whole eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tbsp maple syrup plus more for serving
- 2 tsp vanilla extract vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 pint/2 cups of berries
- ⅓ cup slices almonds
Optional toppings: Cinnamon butter sugar topping (details in note below), maple syrup, honey, powdered sugar and fresh berries.
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and salt until fully combined
- Place 4-5 slice of bread into the milk mixture at a time and allow to sit and soak for 20-30 seconds then remove and arrange each slice in the pan and repeat with the rest of the slices
- Pour the remaining milk mixture over the slices then arrange berries and almonds between and over the slices. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375°F and bake French toast casserole for 30-40 min or until golden with crisp edges then serve with any or all optional toppings
If you wanted to add a bit of a sweet cinnamon crunch topping to this baked French toast just before baking, mix together 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons unsalted melted butter, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the top of the dish, then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top and bake as directed.