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. This easy baked French toast casserole is lightly spiced, slightly sweet, perfectly soft in the middle, and has a deliciously crisp top. You can make this straight away or make it in advance — even overnight. I chose to make mine with my leftover tsoureki - I use my own tsoureki recipe which always makes two loaves of orange flavoured and mastic/ mastiha and mahlepi scented yeasted bread. I think it makes the best French toast but this recipe works with whatever bread you have on hand as long as it’s day old and dried out.
Baked French Toast Ingredients:
- Bread - I made this one with leftover tsoureki but any bread will work like French bread, croissants, challah, brioche or sourdough
- Eggs - large eggs is what I use
- Milk & Cream - I always use whole milk and heavy whipping cream for a rich custard - non dairy milk can be use but French toast will lose some richness
- Maple Syrup - I love the flavour of maple syrup but feel free to sweeten with honey or sugar if you prefer
- Vanilla Extract - I always use pure vanilla extract for the best flavour
- Spices - my favourite combo is
- Optional add ins - lemon or orange zest in the custard, dried or candied fruit like orange peel (my fav to add to this tsourkei version) or extra nuts or sliced fresh fruit like peaches, banana or extra berries in-between slices too
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 and making it is so easy. Here are the simple steps
- Make the French toast custard. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and cream. If you don’t have cream, milk will do, but keep in mind that the mixture will lose a little of that lovely richness. To flavor the egg mixture, add maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and just a pinch of salt.
- Dip the bread into the custard. When I first made this recipe, we would simply pour the custard over bread slices that were lined up in a baking dish. That worked, but not all the bread was covered by the custard. That’s why before pouring all the custard over the bread, we quickly dip each slice into it first and I like to sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar over each slice of bread after its dipped fr extra flavour but that is optional.
- Add dipped bread to a baking dish and pour over custard. I like lining the bread in layers. Then we pour the remaining custard over top.
- Set aside at least 30 minutes or leave it overnight. For the best French toast, you really want to give the bread a chance to absorb as much of the custard as possible. This should happen within half an hour, but if you are making the French toast ahead of time, you can easily just cover and refrigerate the dish overnight!
- Bake until the bread looks puffed and golden brown on top. feel free t tent with foil if you notice the edges starting to brown to quickly or burn slightly
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 Store Leftovers
Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. To reheat, place in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through and re-crisped on top. Slices can be reheated in the microwave.
Can This French Toast Casserole Be Frozen and Reheated?
The fully cooked casserole can be frozen, although it’s better when fresh. However, if you have leftovers to freeze, wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Defrost the individual slices in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave using the defrost setting. Heat till just warmed through in the microwave.
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!
If you like this baked French toast recipe you will love these recipes:
- Croissant Baked French Toast With Strawberries and Cream Cheese
- Baked Blueberry French Toast
- Tsoureki (Greekstyle Sweet Brioche Bread) Sweet Mahlab Bread
- Quick And Easy Mixed Berry Trifle
- 1 large day old bread (tsoureki or any brioche, challah, crusty sourdough or French bread), sliced into ½-¾ inch slices (approx 1 lb)
- 1 tablespoon of butter for greasing baking dish
For the Custard
- 6 whole large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
For the cinnamon sugar (optional)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
For toppings (optional)
- Sliced almonds
- Fresh berries
- Powdered sugar
- Whipped Cream
- Maple syrup
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish or shallow dish or even a cast iron skillet with butter and set aside.
- Stir the cinnamon sugar ingredients together in a small bowl until combined 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 pieces of bread for 20-30 seconds then remove, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar if using and arrange each slice in the pan and repeat with the rest of the slices
- Pour the remaining milk mixture over the slices sprinkle any remaining cinnamon sugar if using over top and the almonds over the soaked tsoureki slices or bread slices. Cover and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F and bake French toast casserole for 30 min or until golden with crisp edges then serve with any or all optional toppings
- How to Store Leftovers: Refrigerate leftovers, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. To reheat, place in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until warmed through and re-crisped on top. Slices can be reheated in the microwave.
- Can This French Toast Casserole Be Frozen and Reheated? The fully cooked casserole can be frozen, although it’s better when fresh. However, if you have leftovers to freeze, wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Defrost the individual slices in the refrigerator overnight or in the microwave using the defrost setting. Heat till just warmed through in the microwave.