Well I'm back from the beach and back to real life as we were greeted by a falling down fence due to some storm damage, a lot of weeds and a giant spider. Fun stuff. Today was spent cleaning up the messes and doing vacation laundry so since that isn't too fun, I'll tell you about the French toast casserole that I made one morning while we were on vacation.
My recipe is a little different since I didn't want to take too many different ingredients so I used milk instead of heavy cream or half and half as the recipe calls for and French bread instead of Challah, because they didn't have any at the supermarket when I went. I used whole eggs instead of yolks because I didn't want to waste the egg whites since I wouldn't use them for anything else on vacation. I also didn't bake it like a custard as the recipe suggests because I didn't have a second pan big enough. I also added a little orange juice to my custard mixture just for a little something extra and tossed the bread cubes with cinnamon and sugar before soaking.
Creme Brulee French Toast Casserole
Adapted from The Pastry Queen
1 large loaf of French bread
8 large eggs
2 1/4 cups milk
1 cup plus 4-5 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 T vanilla extract
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp cinnamon
3 T unsalted butter
Combine eggs, milk, 1 cup sugar, salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla, orange juice, and 2 T melted butter in a large bowl. Whisk together until well incorporated. Use remaining butter to heavily butter a 9x13 baking pan. Slice bread into 1/2" thick slices and then cut slices into cubes. Combine remaining cinnamon and 1 T sugar. Add bread cubes to pan and toss with cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour custard mixture over bread cubes, pressing cubes down with a spoon to thoroughly soak bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake approximately 40-50 minutes until golden brown and set. Remove from the oven and sprinkle remaining 3-4 T of sugar over the top of the casserole in an even, heavy layer. Set broiler on high and return to oven or use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. The sugar will turn brown and liquefy and then harden as it cools. Serve warm with maple syrup if desired.