This week, please help me celebrate the one-year anniversary of my Greg Nelson Cooks blog! It’s been a delicious year filled with lessons learned on writing, photographing, and most importantly, cooking.
The most popular and searched dishes from the past year were (and surprisingly, they’re not all desserts!):
- Grandma Lehman’s Potato Chip Cookies (by a long shot!). While we were all thrilled to help her celebrate her 100th birthday, sadly she passed away late last year.
- Hugo Cocktail
- Cooking a Love Letter (Moroccan Chicken Tajine)
- Citrus Scented Olive Oil Cake
- Winter Root Vegetable Soup
- Ricotta and Fresh Herb Turkey Burger
As I step into year two, I encourage my readers and fellow cooks to comment, share, and try the recipes. Please let me know what you liked, what you didn’t, and what variations you may have made.
This week, I’m re-posting my very first blog entry: Baked French Toast. I’ve updated the picture with a more recent version I made – with pears and dark chocolate – and I still have the nerve to call it breakfast, not dessert. Try it for Easter brunch!
Baked French Toast with Fruit
Because I like sweet and sticky carbs, from about the age of 14 I was our family’s weekend breakfast maker. This was mostly pancakes and other sweet stuff like my self-invented “whack and bake” French Toast. You know, the kind of store-bought tube biscuit dough that you must “whack” on the counter to break open the tube, plus an egg and milk mixture, and cinnamon. If my siblings and I begged enough, Dad would make his blender version of Orange Julius (orange juice, honey and ice) to go with my French toast. Despite the distinctive commercial biscuit chemical taste, my innovative French Toast wasn’t too bad.
Assembled the night before and baked the next morning, this “real ingredient” baked French Toast is a perfect way to feed many people (brunch!)
It’s French Toast all at once instead of keeping family and friends waiting for their batch. It is infinitely variable with types of bread, nut, berry or other fruit, and syrups or compotes.
Leftovers, tightly covered in plastic, also freeze well. Just thoroughly thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat the next morning at 350F for 20 minutes until warmed throughout.
Here’s the recipe:
Baked French Toast with Apples
- 1 large loaf of French or Italian bread (not a baguette) *
- 10 large eggs
- 4 cups half and half
- 1 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 medium cooking apples (e.g., Golden Delicious or Granny Smith work well)
- 3 tablespoons butter, diced
- Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with vegetable oil or butter the dish.
- Slice bread into 1 1/2 inch slices. Place into baking dish, slightly staggered, closely together.
- In a mixing bowl, beat together eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, half and half and vanilla. Pour half of the egg mixture evenly over the bread.
- Peel, core and slice apples. Place sliced apples on top of bread to cover. (Cut 8 wedges from each apple.).
- Pour remaining half of egg mixture evenly over the apples.
- Mix remaining 1/2 cup sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle evenly over apples.
- Dot with butter.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Uncover dish and bake 60 – 70 minutes. Egg custard should be set and the apples soft.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving. (This will help achieve clean cuts.).
Don’t like apples? Don’t use them! Try pears (peeled and cored) or figs when in season. Stone fruits will leech too much liquid, so avoid those. Love nuts? Sprinkle on 1 cup of your favorite chopped nuts (pecans work well). Use the provided bread and egg base and be creative with your own add ins.