Make Ahead Brunch

With Thanksgiving just a bit over a week away and the end of year holidays fast behind it, free time and leisure are becoming harder and harder to find. Save yourself a bit of time by leaning on dishes you can assemble in advance and look for quieter times to host your gatherings. This is why one of my favorite events is the holiday brunch. Quieter and more intimate than a full-blown dinner party, such gatherings give you a chance to visit more and linger over another cup of coffee alongside a muffin. And when you can assemble the main course in advance, all the better!

This sweet breakfast bake is brimming with the flavors of apple pie. Cinnamon-laced apples mixed with tender pastry and a creamy egg custard means brunch will also leave your home smelling like you've been baking apple pies! If you want to assemble this one in advance, don't preheat the oven and stop short of sprinkling the last bit of cinnamon sugar over the top. Then cover your baking dish and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, sprinkle the sugar over the top, preheat the oven, and bake away!

I purposely leave the foundation of this bake to you. Do you have a loaf of French bread waiting to be used? How about a bag of day old cake donuts? I like to mix things up and use what I have on hand, but if you're looking for something fancy, consider picking up a few of those amazing apple cider donuts that have been gracing bakery shelves for the last month or so! But really, whatever your choice, you'll impress your guests with this lovely start to the day!

Apple Breakfast Bake

  • 4 c. torn bread, donuts, croissants, etc.
  • 2 large baking apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 c. half and half
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and toss the bread, donuts, croissants, or other pastry into the bottom of the pan. Set aside.

Place the apples in a large bowl. In a glass measuring cup, combine the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon; mix to form a homogeneous blend. Add 1/2 cup of the cinnamon sugar mixture to the apples and toss well to coat evenly. Reserve the remaining cinnamon sugar for later.

Sprinkle the sweetened apple slices evenly over the pastry or bread pieces in the prepared baking pan.

In a quart mason jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the eggs, half and half, and vanilla extract. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously until a smooth, creamy, pale mixture forms. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the ingredients in the baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven until set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with maple syrup and butter.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 45 minutes