Lazy Summer Mornings

Summer is a great time to enjoy laid back weekend mornings. They tend to be cooler than the afternoons and enjoying the season's best produce along with a perfect cup of coffee makes it hard not to have a fantastic day:

Now, you might be wondering about how to get your hands on rhubarb this late in the season. Well, if you're like me, you freeze it and it's no problem. But even if you don't, consider other fruit topping combinations for this simple overnight French toast recipe. I love raspberries paired with plums and blackberries paired with peaches, but use what you have on hand and think your family will enjoy. The fruit also makes a great stand-in if you've run out of maple syrup, which does manage to happen now and then in my home.

One of the nicest things about this recipe is being able to do the prep work on the French toast the night before you plan to make it. Being able to just pop it in a warm oven in the morning and focus on fruit (or prep that in advance too and just sit back and enjoy the morning!) is what laid back summer weekends are all about. I'm particularly fond of doubling this recipe for mornings in which I have overnight guests or friends coming over for brunch. It's easy, elegant, and quite filling. Now that's just about perfect.

If I'm making this as part of a larger brunch, I like to pair it with bacon or sausage, fresh fruit or fruit salad, and maybe some scones or muffins. Beyond that, having fresh coffee and orange juice makes it complete. And if the weather cooperates, I like having it all out on the patio. Surrounded by flowers, trees, and the sounds of nature, I find there's no need for a centerpiece or any other fussy details. Just sit back and enjoy a lazy summer morning!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Baked French Toast

  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 large sourdough baguette - sliced into 9-12 thick slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 c. half & half
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. rhubarb - cleaned and diced
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries - cleaned and halved or quartered

The night before you want to have your French toast, spray an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray and arrange the sliced bread in a layer in the bottom of the pan.

Place the eggs, half & half, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a resealable jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to form a custard mixture. Alternately, you could combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them briskly to do the same. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread in the baking pan. Allow the custard to soak into the bread for about 5 minutes, then flip each piece of bread in the pan and cover the pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350° F. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking pan and bake the French toast for 20-30 minutes or until the egg is set and the top of the toast is golden.

While the toast is baking, prepare the rhubarb sauce by combining the rhubarb, brown sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, cover, and stir periodically until the rhubarb is softened. Clean and cut the strawberries.

Serve the baked French toast with the fresh strawberries and rhubarb sauce.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes plus chilling overnight