A perfect way to start any special morning— baked french toast with a crumbly streusel topping and easy homemade cranberry maple syrup.
I like to pull out all the stops for the holidays, with regards to food. For weeks I dream / plan / stress about what we’re going to enjoy and how I’m going to pull it all off. I love it and I hate it.
Who cares? It’s just food. But I care! I love to make food, eat food, and share it with others.
And while I’m still debating with myself about what ideas I need to ditch in the name of simplicity and sanity (do we really need 3 kinds of fudge?), there is one thing I will never give up— the make-ahead Christmas morning breakfast.
There’s a reason why my Pinterest feed is full of sweet and savory breakfast casseroles right now— they’re just plain genius. It’s great to be able to relax with your family on Christmas morning, instead of slaving away in the kitchen.
And so here’s one more, because it’s my current favorite.
The baked french toast is barely adapted from Joy the Baker’s cookbook, and I wish I could give Joy a huge hug for bringing this recipe into my life. It starts out like any baked french toast, but it turns into something magical thanks to its streusel topping. It’s like coffee cake and bread pudding all in one, and it’s my current Christmas morning go-to.
The cranberry maple syrup is my way of giving the dish a seasonal flair. It’s just pure maple syrup, cranberries and a cinnamon stick. Just be sure to not cook it too long or you’ll end up with thick cranberry sauce instead of a syrup.
baking tip:Is stale bread necessary for bread pudding or baked french toast?
Most recipes for bread pudding or baked french toast ask that you use stale or day-old bread. Recipes like these were originally created as a way to use old, stale bread. It soaks up the liquid and becomes moist and fresh again after baking. But does the bread need to be dry and stale in order to soak up the liquid? Not really, the difference it makes is very small. Use whatever bread you have.
Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping and Cranberry Maple Syrup
For the french toast:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 10 slices bread , sliced into triangles
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cup whole milk (355 ml)
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar (66 grams)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the streusel topping:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (60 grams)
- ¼ cup packed light or dark brown sugar (28 grams)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter , cold and cut into cubes (56 grams)
For the cranberry maple syrup:
- ¾ cup pure maple syrup (310 ml)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries , divided (100 grams)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Grease an 8-inch cast iron skillet or other round 8-inch pan with the tablespoon of butter. Line the slices of bread in the pan, point side-up. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla. Pour over the bread slices, making sure every slice is moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
- When ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or a pair of knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until they are the size of very small peas. (Note: this step can also be done the night before. Store topping in the fridge.)
- Sprinkle the streusel topping over the bread slices. Bake until the topping is golden and the center is set, about 35-40 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before serving.
To make the cranberry maple syrup:
- Combine the maple syrup, ¾ cup cranberries and cinnamon stick in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and let cook until cranberries pop, about 3 minutes. Mash the cranberries with a fork as they cook. Add the remaining ¼ cup of cranberries and cook for about 1 minute longer, just until they pop. Remove from heat and stir in the tablespoon of butter.
- The syrup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.