Lazy Brunch

I love fancy breakfasts. What I'm less enamored by is getting up early and spending all morning in the kitchen. As a result, make ahead dishes are on my list of favorites and few are as wonderful as this french toast-bread pudding mix-up that has a little hint of cheesecake happening:

It really does seem a bit like dessert and I might even consider serving it as such, except it does fall into my make-ahead brunch category and that means I'm in love with the idea of basically being able to fall out of bed, put this dish in the oven, snuggle with my first cup or two of coffee, and do some light reading or just sit in my rocker on the patio while brunch takes care of itself. It may sound like I'm nothing more than a curmudgeon, but don't knock it until you've tried it!

Since my plan is to make this meal fuss free, I just have a slice or two of this amazing breakfast dish and as much coffee as my morning requires. You could slice fruit and fry some bacon or sausage and that would be lovely … but I tend to just kick back and be a bit lazy because most summer weekends keep me pretty busy and this is my way of reclaiming a little slice of time for me. Why not grab of the same for you, too?

Baked Blueberry-Challah French Toast

  • 1 large loaf challah (or other hearty bread), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries (unthawed)
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 ¾ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

Lightly grease a 9x9-inch pan. Arrange half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan. Layer the cream cheese cubes and frozen berries evenly over the bread cubes. Top with the remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread cubes. Press the bread cubes slightly down to absorb the milk/egg mixture. Sprinkle the top of the bread evenly with brown sugar, cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight. (Or skip this step and continue with the baking steps.)

In the morning, remove the french toast from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350° F. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 22-30 minutes or until fluffy and golden. Serve with maple syrup and additional fruit, if desired.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: About an hour

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