I love eggs, but my love does not. So frittatas, stratas, quiche or other larger batch egg-centric brunch items rarely grace our Sunday morning kitchen. But what about French Toast? It’s on Jesse’s “maybe” list, if it’s not too “eggy”. So while he was alway for the weekend, I practiced a less eggy version of a French Toast bake. And I made it small batch, because it was just me. Despite what the two forks in the pictures convey…I ate the whole damn thing. BUT it could easily serve two or be doubled to feed a small brunch crew.
Side note…Can I just say what an ordeal it is to buy a house? Anyone else feel me? And above the normal invasive process that is applying for a mortgage, our first house that we went under contract with fell through over the Christmas holiday – Merry Christmas indeed. At that point in the whole process, our landlord had other tenants lined up for our apartment, so we have to be out February 1. So in the first week of January we “aggressively” looked at houses – which means I looked at houses and did video walk throughs with commentary for Jesse (as he was out of state for most of this search on a business trip). I’m happy to report we are now under contract with another house – one in a much better location with a big fenced in yard. We’re set to close in record speed – less than 3 weeks, which means we won’t be homeless, we’ll just literally have 1 day to move. Let’s hope this one goes more smoothly, aye?
Back to baking…if you’ve been following along my instagram since Christmas, you might have noticed I got a Dutch Oven and have been using every chance I have to bake bread in it. So it’s no surprise that I used a few slices of my new go-to bread for this recipe! I looked around the interwebs, and most no-knead dutch oven bread recipes follow the same formula (3 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast, pinch of salt and roughly 1 1/2 cups warm water). And they’re just alright. Honestly, most of them left the dough WAY too wet, I had to add up to 1/2 cup more flour than the recipes called for just to form a dough ball. And you know what, I don’t mind kneading bread. It’s therapeutic. So I landed on a recipe that calls for less water, more flour, an egg and some kneading time. AND DAMN, it’s good. (Should I share that recipe as well? Let me know!)
So I encourage you to go the extra mile and use homemade bread for this recipe, but in a pinch, store bought will do. Just make sure to get a loaf that has a good thick crust and is fairly dense, otherwise your French Toast will turn to French Mush. Also, this French Toast Bake is a perfect way to use up slightly stale bread (although bread never lasts long enough in my house to go stale…).
Small Batch French Toast Bake with Maple Glazed Pecans
What You’ll Need
2 big slices thick crusty bread, cubed (~ 2 cups)
1/3 cup milk of choice
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Maple Glazed Pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pecans
banana, for serving
maple syrup, for serving
How To Whip It Up
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together egg, milk, brown sugar, almond extract and butter until combined. Make sure to whisk long enough so there are no eggy streaks, then stir in cinnamon and nutmeg. Add bread cubes and toss until each piece is soaked through with the egg mixture. The key to a less “eggy” French Toast bake is to make sure there isn’t much extra egg mixture floating around – you want it to just about all soak soak into the bread.
Pour bread mixture into a lightly greased small baking dish – I used a 5×7, but if you don’t have one, something similarly small should work (you just want a small enough dish so that the cubes all touch each other, otherwise they’ll dry out).
In a small mixing bowl, combine pecans, cinnamon and maple syrup until coated. Then sprinkle pecans on top of the bread cubes.
Bake at 375°, start checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Edges of cubes should be crispy, but not burnt. Middles of cubes could be firm, not wet.
Let cool slightly, then top with banana slices, more maple syrup and a pinch of powdered sugar if desired. Enjoy!
Less refined sugar: You can substitute maple syrup for the brown sugar 1:1.
Non-Dairy: Use unsweetened plain almond milk and melted coconut oil/ vegan butter 1:1.