I wasn’t always a breakfast person. For much of my life, I loathed it. The smell of breakfast food cooking would make me downright nauseous–not the smell of breakfast food on its own, exactly. I’m not even the type of person who dislikes the smell of eggs. I think it just had more to do with the hour in which it was overwhelming my senses. But now I love me some breakfast. I’m all about it. Oatmeal, pancakes, muffins, even a simple bowl of cereal and some fruit — breakfast is awesome!
It could have been a change brought on by age and simply needing a little something to get me going in the morning, but after I got into the habit of eating breakfast, I really noticed a significant change in how productive and on top of things I was during the day. So I enjoy breakfast, I look forward to it, and I even planned for it.
I think we can all agree that French toast is one of the most delicious breakfast foods there is, but making French toast — the same goes for pancakes, for that matter — really consists of standing over the stove making everyone their dishes and by the time you’re ready to sit down with your plate, everyone else is already finished. French toast and pancakes must be the preferred breakfast option for the anti-social.
So why not put all of the ingredients for French toast in a baking dish and make a breakfast’s worth for the whole family in one shot?
I got the idea for this French toast from A Nut in a Nutshell, who made it with blueberries and a warm blueberry sauce. I changed things up a bit because for one, I coouldn’t find a baguette to save my life. The grocery store staff could have easily thought I had lost my mind amongst the bread products because I stood there for a really long time making sure I hadn’t just glanced over them. If a baguette was there, I was going to find it. I was determined, but had no such luck. So I used a standard loaf of fresh French bread that seemed to work just as well.
Blueberries are also extremely difficult to find this time of year. Actually, blueberries are always hit or miss around here. When I see them, I’m almost shocked and run to them as if I had never seen a blueberry before in my life, as I mentioned when I made the blueberry breakfast cake. I stock up and for the next few days, everything is served with a side of blueberries. Of course, the time when I am actively seeking them, they were nowhere in sight, so I used strawberries. Again, it worked, and I’d say that you could really use any type of fruit in this and it will work just the same. You could also use frozen fruit–a thought that honestly didn’t even occur to me until I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone complaining about our lack of blueberries when she asked why I didn’t just use frozen. That was a forehead-smack moment.
This French toast is relatively simple to make, although it does take a little time. The bright side is that most of that time is attributed to it needing to be assembled and refrigerated overnight for the next morning. Yes, this is a breakfast you make a plan on having; but if you enjoy it as much as we did, the forethought isn’t an inconvenience, and you just may catch yourself wondering when you can get away with making it again.
A thick, sweet cream cheese mixture makes up a layer of this dish, resembling a sort of deconstructed stuffed French toast, which makes this just a little different than the French toast you have been making on the stove.
Oven-Baked Strawberry French Toast Recipe
- 1 loaf French bread or baguette
- 10 oz Philadelphia cream cheese
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 cups milk
- 10 eggs
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 cups chopped strawberries
- Grease a 9×12 baking dish with butter, shortening, or spray lightly with baking spray.
- Cut bread into cubes and layer on bottom of greased dish.
- Beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and 2 tablespoons milk until soft and creamy. Spread over top of bread cubes making your best attempt at a smooth layer, but know that you will ultimately fail. My cream cheese mixture ended up being mostly concentrated in the center.
- Whisk together eggs, 2 cups milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour over top of bread and cream cheese mixture.
- Add 2 cups chopped strawberries to the top of the dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, cover dish with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for another 30 minutes until bread is golden brown.
Adapted from A Nut in a Nutshell
I also did not make a sauce to go over the French toast, mostly because 2 cups of sugar being poured over my breakfast didn’t sound like a great idea for my teeth or my increasing waist, and I really didn’t think that it needed anything extra going on. But if you’re looking for a sweeter dessert-type breakfast, you totally should.