This is a Paula Deen recipe that I changed around a little with the Raspberry sauce, so expect a lot of butter, cream and an amazing breakfast/brunch. My college friends were in town for a wedding and found this delicious.
Add to your grocery list:
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup milk
8 large eggs
2 cup half-and-half
Butter, for pan
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
Praline Topping, recipe follows
Raspberry Syrup, recipe follows
2 sticks butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
1 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. preserves (I used Bumbleberry, purchased on a fruit picking farm)
2 tablespoons white wine, I used a dry white wine to take away from the sweetness.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (unless you are using the overnight method). Generously butter a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Slice your french bread into approximately one-inch thick slices. The recipe calls for 20, but I had a hard time fitting them all in a single layer in the casserole dish. After jamming the slices in, I realized an easier layout for the bread would be to layer them resting on top of each other, like a cheese tray.
In a mixing bowl, whip together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, nutmeg, cinnamon, sugar, and vanilla with either a whisk or a hand mixer. I also added in a little bit of black pepper. The mix should be thouroughly blended, so I suggest the hand mixer. I used a fork and had two egg yolks still whole when I poured the batter over the toast, the next step. When pouring the egg combo, be sure to cover all the bread slices evenly. I kept going and just baked the bread immediately after I soaked the bread slices. You can also cover up the baking pan and refrigerate overnight for a softer texture and fully soaked bread.
When your bread has chilled overnight, or you are ready to immediately bake your dish, whip up the praline topping. In another bowl, intermingle all the ingredients until well-integrated. Evenly paint on the mixture to the top of your bread covering the entire dish creating a sweet, slightly thick, top layer. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until the egg mixture turns into a solid, slightly mushy state. The eggs should have cooked thoroughly through and the praline topping will have melted and become a dark brown, crystallized crust.
While your brunch is baking, you can heat up the fruit topping. I didn’t have the ingredients Paula called for, so I whipped up my own version. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients on low heat stirring until completely heated. Set aside for later.
It was a little sweet, so you could probably remove either the corn syrup or honey. The wine definitely brought down the kid-in-a-candy-store sweetness with a grown up kick, so if you follow the recipe exactly I would make sure to add this. Any fruit and preserve would work, so if blueberries are in season and cheaper, try a variation of the raspberry topping.
When the french toast bake is finished, dish out one-two slices per plate and top with the raspberry topping. Delectable!
The best part was definitely the crunchy, candied pecans crusting onto the gooey, egg-thick french toast. It didn’t stick your teeth, but sure tasted like a taboo candy that would rot out your molars. The fresh fruit on top made the dish feel healthy and brought another level of flavor to the agreeably sweetened, nutty french toast. A great brunch item paired with a mimosa or watermelon cooler and some fresh fruit.