Gingerbread…it isn’t just for Christmas! Gingerbread Apple French Toast Bake, with sugar-dusted squares of apples and French bread encased in a spiced milk and egg filling accented with molasses, will start your New Year off on a most delicious note. It’s a warm and comforting breakfast through the winter, and that’s why it’s January’s star of The Recipe Box in Direct Magazine.
I love French Toast. Making lots of individual slices for a crowd can be tricky and time consuming, but this casserole means you can make enough to share without having to stand at the stove or griddle cooking all morning. Everyone (including you!) can sit down and enjoy warm, eggy, spicy, syrupy bread together. And it’s so easy ~ slice the bread and prep the fruit, and into the dish they go. Mix the eggs, milk, half and half and spices, then pour over.
Dot the top wth butter…
…then sprinkle with sugar and spices. At this point you can bake the French Toast immediately, or put it into the fridge for a few hours or overnight before baking. I usually make it the night before and pop it into the oven in the morning. This dish is a perfect New Year’s Day Rose Parade and football game watching breakfast.
If you’re making this for brunch with guests, the advance prep frees you up to take care of all the other details while it bakes. Serve with bacon or sausage, fresh fruit and plenty of hot coffee (for the adults). You can easily change this recipe to suit your tastes ~ make this with the apples and without the molasses if you prefer.
Substitute fresh blueberries for the apples and add cinnamon and vanilla extract for a beautiful Easter or Mother’s Day breakfast (make a note on your 2018 planner now!).
If you’re as big a fan of pumpkin as I am, my pumpkin version with dates and a streusel topping will “hit the spot”, as my Gramma Omi used to say. By the way, did you know that pumpkin is really good for you? It’s recommended that you keep some in your pantry all year to add to oatmeal and yogurt and such for extra nutrition – so don’t feel like you have to wait for fall to come around to try this yummy french toast!
Make any of the variations in a casserole dish, or use muffin tins to make individual portions that are easy to serve and freeze. Any way you slice and serve it, you’re going to love this dish!
Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. ~Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium Happy 2018, y’all!
- Gingerbread French Toast:
- 1 large French bread boule (round) cut into cubes, or batard (loaf), cut into 1” slices
- 8 eggs
- 1½ cups milk (whole or 2%)
- 1 cup half and half
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Gingerbread Spice (below), or substitute 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. each ginger and allspice and ¼ tsp. each cloves and nutmeg * *
- pinch of cardamom
- 4 tart baking apples (i.e. Granny Smith, Honey Crisp), peeled and cut into four segments away from the core
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, for dusting
- For Blueberry French Toast:
- Omit apples, Gingerbread Spice and molasses.
- Sprinkle 2 pints fresh blueberries (washed and dried) over the bread.
- Stir 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1Tbsp. vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste into the milk and egg mixture, and pour over bread and fruit.
- Mix 1 tsp. cinnamon with the ¼ cup sugar and sprinkle over the top.
- Chill/bake as directed.
- Gingerbread Spice Mix:
- 2 Tbsp. each ground allspice, ground cinnamon, ground ginger
- 1 Tbsp. each ground cloves, ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground white pepper
- Pinch of cardamom
- Whisk all spices together until well combined. Store in an airtight container. Use in cookies, cakes, pancakes, gingerbread.
- Spray 9"x 13" baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place bread cubes or slices into prepared baking dish.
- In a large bowl, lightly whisk eggs, milk, half and half, molasses, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla extract and gingerbread spice.
- Slice apple segments and evenly layer them over the bread in the dish.
- Pour egg mixture over the top
- Mix remaining ¼ cup sugar with 1 tsp. gingerbread spice; sprinkle evenly over apples.
- Dot the top with the butter.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Remove French toast from refrigerator while oven preheats.
- Uncover and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until golden brown, set, and a small knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Check after 35 minutes, and cover the top with foil for the remainder of the baking time if it’s getting too brown.
- Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Dust the top with powdered sugar, cut into squares and serve with maple syrup.