Today's recipe is one of my favorites. It's a baked French toast that can be modified a zillion different ways to suit any taste. It must be made in advance (the night before) which means minimal effort first thing in the morning. It also has a short list of every day ingredients.
If you don't have plans for Christmas breakfast yet, consider whipping this up. It takes just a few minutes to throw together but it results in a yummy, special breakfast. As my husband said the other day after eating a batch, "That was glorious, Miss Lydia." Glorious, indeed!
LYDIA'S BAKED FRENCH TOAST
1 (13- to 14-inch-long) loaf of soft-crust supermarket Italian bread
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (give or take) sliced almonds
- Cut 12 (1-inch-thick) diagonal slices from bread, reserving ends for another use.
- Generously butter 1 side of each slice and arrange slices, buttered sides up, in 1 layer in a buttered 13- by 9- by 2-inch glass baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit if necessary. (Note: you may find it difficult to get everything into one dish--really squeeze the bread in there!)
- Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and extract until combined well, then pour evenly over bread.
- Chill, covered, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, depending on bread. (The bread really sops up the liquid!)
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Bring mixture to room temperature and sprinkle bread with sugar and almonds.
- Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately with syrup.
- I've used challah bread and sourdough for this in the past--both worked well. Use any type of bread you want (brioche, baguette, etc.).
- If you don't like (or have on hand) almond extract, try vanilla, maple syrup, orange, or anything else you like.
- If you want something festive, try eggnog instead of milk.
- We drink skim milk in our house, so if you don't have whole milk just use what you have on hand. It won't mess things up.
- Change the topping: you don't need to add nuts, or if you want, try a different combination of nuts (I think pistachios would be yummy).
- Instead of maple syrup, try powdered sugar, fruit syrup, or whatever else you may want.