Last week I outlined my requirements for a Sunday Brunch dish: special and easy. You can read that post here. This Strawberry French Toast Bake meets both of those requirements.
Strawberry French Toast Bake
When Jim and I finished off the Blueberry French Toast we both agreed it was a recipe to make again with the changes I outlined at the end of last week’s post. About mid-week Jim posed the question, what if it was made with strawberries? I agreed to give it a try.
The blueberry recipe was enough for a family and there are only two of us so I designed the strawberry recipe to serve four. It can be doubled for more servings, but will require slightly longer oven time.
Just How Easy Is It?
First, assemble your ingredients.
Prepare your baking dish. I used an 8-inch square, 2 quart baking dish and coated it with a baking spray.
Cube the breadcrumbs and place half in the baking dish.
Add the cubed cream cheese and then the chopped strawberries. Top with the remaining bread cubes.
Mix up the wet ingredients and pour over the top. (Sorry, but it was impossible to mix and pour while taking pictures. Use your imagination.)
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, remove the casserole from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before time to bake it. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make coffee and have a cup. (OK. That step is optional – for some, at least. For me, making coffee would be the step BEFORE removing the casserole from the refrigerator.)
Cover casserole with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes until top is browned and center is set. (Pictures of these steps were real snoozers. Just use your imagination again.)
Grab another cup of coffee or breakfast drink of your choice.
Now to make the syrup. SO simple!
Using a medium saucepan heat water, sugar, and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly. This is why you need to have your coffee already poured. You can stir with one hand and hold your mug in the other. If you are really coordinated, you can also chat with family and friends. If you are not that coordinated, let everyone else carry on the conversation. This is hot sugar water! You could get burned if you are not careful. Anyway, carry on.
After it cooks a while (read the recipe) add strawberries and cook a little while longer. Put your coffee mug down before adding the strawberries. This will require your attention to avoid splashing the hot syrup on you. I know most of you don’t need these cautions, but there are some who do. I, myself, have to be fully caffeinated before making the syrup. Otherwise, it just isn’t safe for anyone in the kitchen.
But I digress . . . The syrup will thicken as the strawberries cook and will turn a beautiful shade of red.
When the syrup is done, add butter and stir.
Pour syrup over the casserole and . . . Voila! Brunch is ready!
Please ignore the little swirl of butter which didn’t quite get stirred in enough in the picture below. I was starving by then and just couldn’t wait any longer. I know you will do better.
Add bacon and another cup of coffee and you have brunch.
Strawberry French Toast Bake – serves 4
- 6 slices bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (I used sliced Italian bread.)
- 1 (8ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/6 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Lightly spray a 2-quart casserole. Mine was 8-inches square.
- Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish and top with the cream cheese cubes. Scatter 1 cup strawberries over the cream cheese and add the remaining bread crumbs.
- In a medium bowl mix eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and syrup. Pour mixture over the bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the casserole from the refrigerator about half an hour before time to bake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cover and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake another 20-25 minutes. Test center by inserting a knife or skewer. The casserole is done when the center is firm and the top is lightly browned.
- In a medium saucepan mix sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Continue to stir and boil 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup strawberries and reduce the heat. Simmer the mixture 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the butter and pour over the French toast.
- Serve hot.
Special and Easy
Why is this special? It is special because it is not something most of us want or would eat every morning for breakfast. Having a leisurely Sunday Brunch sets the time and the dish apart as something different, something to be savored. This French toast is special because it uses strawberries, one of the most beautiful and flavorful of fruits. The dish is sweet, but not too sweet.
Why is this easy? Read the directions! You make the casserole ahead of time in very short order. The time spent the next day baking the French toast and making the syrup is time to visit with your family or guests over coffee as you do the oh-so-easy tasks of sliding the casserole into the oven, measuring the syrup ingredients into a pot, and stirring.
Leftovers (if any) can be covered and refrigerated until the next day. The French toast can be reheated in the oven or in the microwave.
As I told you last week, I am only an occasional cook and I am a lazy cook so if I tell you this is quick and easy, it is!
Try this. I think you will enjoy it. If not on Sunday, enjoy it another day when you want something easy, special, and delicious.
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