Do you prefer make-ahead breakfast that gives you more time to sleep or you prefer waking up early to prepare the breakfast? Although I am somewhat I morning person, from time to time I like having an extended sleep especially during weekends or even on regular weekdays. For days like that, I like to resort to make-ahead breakfast option and one of my favorite make-ahead breakfast is baked overnight French toast. Have you tried making one before?
Few years back, the kind of french toast that I know is that one that you prepare on the spot. You know the one that you dip in milk, egg and sugar mixture and then you cook in the skillet? That’s the one. They became my favorite because I find it easy to make and very nice to go with fresh fruits and some chocolate sauce or whipped cream. For me the Classic French Toast is a simple, delicious and fancy breakfast that I can make in as short as 15 minutes. Then I saw the baked overnight french toast version, and as expected I went crazy over it at least for few months. I made it maybe 2 times a month most of the time during summer because I like making it with fresh fruits. Bake overnight French toast gave me the opportunity to enjoy french toast and few more minutes in bed. So why not make the most of it, right?
Classic French Toast vs Overnight French Toast
What is the difference? The ingredients for these 2 are basically the same. Eggs, milk and sugar and flavoring like cinnamon or vanilla extract. The major difference lies on the process on how you prepare it.
Classic French Toast are cooked on a skillet or griddle pan, and you prepare it the same day or few hours before you want to serve it. You basically dip the sliced bread into the milk mixture and then you cook it on stove top skillet or griddle pan. Because you are using a stove top, you have to check it from time to time to monitor the browning, and of course you have to flip it to cook each side evenly. Classic French Toast have a nicely browned slightly crunchy sides and soft center texture. It is more like a softer bread toast. This is what I like the best about it, the crunchy soft texture of the bread.
Baked Overnight French Toast. It also uses the same ingredients, but instead of dipping the entire sliced bread, you need to cut the sliced bread into small cubes, and you don’t dip it individually. Imagine the amount of work if you dip each of the cube, it will be a nightmare. So what you do is you pour the milk mixture over the cubed bread and you toss it until it is fully soaked. Then you transfer it to a baking dish layer it with some fruits and you cover it with another layer of cubed soaked bread. Fruit filling is totally optional but it really makes the french toast stand out and elevated so I highly recommend you try it that way. Cover it with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge overnight, the you go have a nice goodnight sleep. The following morning, it’s ready for baking. All the work is done ahead of time, and all you need to do the following day is to bake it. The texture is of this is totally different from the Classic French Toast. Overnight French Toast has a cake like texture and it is thicker. I would say this version is more filling and heavy because the bread itself is dense because of the long hours of being soaked in milk mixture. So I guess it depends on how much time you have on hand, or your preference. Regardless which one you choose, I guarantee that you will not regret
What is Special About This Overnight French Toast
You could probably already know the answer to this question, but nonetheless let me answer it anyway so that I can explain further. Two things, Homemade Strawberry Compote (Sauce) & Cream Cheese made this overnight french toast extra special. Those 2 fillings made the center of the french toast creamy and at the same time sweet and tangy. As if it is not enough that this have a wonderful flavor and texture inside and out, I added more Strawberry Sauce on top while I’m eating it, it was so sinfully good. I opted for Strawberry Sauce rather than Strawberry Jam because I want chunks of strawberry inside the french toast and I also want to have a sauce that I could pour on it while I’m eating it. Jam would be too thick to do that, and I think it is also too sweet. Strawberry Sauce so far is the best option for me. I also considered using fresh strawberries to layer in between, but I imagined that a softer sweeter strawberry sauce will complement well with the creaminess of the cream cheese. You can choose which ever option works for you, but I ask you that please give the Strawberry Sauce a chance, it’s really good. For the cream cheese, I only added sugar and nothing else. That is just to make it soft and sweet enough to make the center rich and creamy. I did not bother add egg as the milk mixture itself already have egg.
How Much Milk Mixture Do You Need?
I have added the milk measurement below but I think it is important that I stress out that is just a starting point. You may use more or less depending on the age of the bread you are using and also the type of bread. Order bread tends to be drier and will require a little bit more liquid to soak, and same goes with whole wheat bread. So my suggestion is to gradually pour the liquid over the cubed bread. If the bread are already soaked and wet, that should be a good point to stop. If there are still some that are not soak then you need to add more liquid. Add more milk just until all the bread are soak but do not add more egg, there is already too much egg in the milk mixture.
- 5-6 pieces bread cut into small cubes (White, Whole Wheat or any Sweet Breads that is few days old) – dark sides remove
- 3 Eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp brown sugar
- pinch of cinnamon (optional)
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract (optional)
- 3 tbsp cream cheese – softened at room temperature
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup Strawberry Sauce
Note: Depending on the age, type and texture of the bread, you may need more or less milk. Adjust as needed. You want the bread to be fully coated with liquid mixture and a little more liquid left to submerge half of the bread.
- Mix Eggs, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup of brown sugar.
- Cut bread into small cubes.
- Add cut bread cubes to the milk and eggs mixture. Toss until fully coated.
- Divide the bread mixture into two. Arrange half of the portion in a pan (I used 5.5×5.5 square). Spread fresh strawberries or strawberry sauce then doll-up the softened cream cheese. Cover with the remaining half of the bread mixture. Sprinkle with brown sugar when ready to bake.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the fridge.
- Before baking, sprinkle with 3 tbsp of brown sugar on top.
- Preheat oven to 350F/177C.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes or until top is golden brown and the center is set and no longer wet. Check the center, if still wet, pop in back to the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes.
- Dust with icing sugar and add top with desired toppings.
Serves 3 – 4
Good to Know:
- It is best to use a few days old bread for this recipe especially if you want to leave it overnight in the fridge. The texture of the bread should be a little bit hard and dry already. A stale bread will not get too soft when submerged in the egg and milk mixture.
- It you want to make a larger batch, make sure you have enough liquid to soak the bread, but not too much to the point that you cannot see the bread anymore.
- Depending on the age, type and texture of the bread, you may need more or less milk. Adjust as needed. You want the bread to be fully coated with liquid mixture and a little more liquid left to submerge half of the bread.
Give it a try, and let me know how it goes. Feel free to share this recipe and let’s get the community baking! ♥