Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Blackberry French Toast Bake

Have you ever purchased the ingredients to make something and then, for whatever reason, never got around to making it, ended up not needing it or just flat out changed your mind?  I had planned to make this indulgent breakfast one morning while my kids and husband were home during Christmas break.  For one reason or another, it simply never happened.  This is a dish that takes a bit of fore-thought, having to put it together the night before, and it also requires a small bit of time in the oven the next morning.  I wasn't prepared to scrap the idea.  I'd run across the recipe and then wonder what might have been.

Last week, my two oldest kids were off more school days than they were on.  And we didn't even get the worst of the storm that blew through the Midwest!  If it's going to get that bad outside, you will oftentimes be afforded the luxury of finding out the night before whether school is cancelled.  I had anticipated this happening and made sure to have the proper ingredients on-hand in the event my young'uns were home and might enjoy a dessert-like breakfast one morning.

There is no better description for this breakfast casserole than "dessert-like."  So, don't fix this if you're on a strict diet.  There is not a balanced eating plan in existence that has room for this dish.  But I bet if you served this at a brunch or a lady's coffee klatch, you'd be the star of the show for sure!

This recipe comes courtesy of Ree Drummond's (aka Pioneer Woman) Tasty Kitchen blog.  There are so many talented cooks and bakers that contribute recipes to that blog.  Check it out via this link or the Tasty Kitchen button to the right.

Blackberry French Toast Bake
Here's What You Need:
1 cup blackberry jam
1 loaf french bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup brown sugar

Here's What You Do:
In a small saucepan, cook the jam over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.  Stir.  You simply want to melt the jam into a liquid.  Place half of the bread cubes in the bottom of a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish.  Top the bread with the cubes of cream cheese and then drizzle the melted jam on top of that.  Top with the remaining bread cubes.  Whisk the eggs, cinnamon, vanilla and half-and-half in a medium bowl.  Pour this mixture over the bread cubes.  Sprinkle the top with the brown sugar and cover the baking dish with foil.  Gently press down on the foil so the bread is immersed in the egg mixture and soaks it up.  Be sure your foil tightly covers the dish and pop it in the fridge for 8-24 hours.

Take the dish out of the oven, leave the foil on, and let it sit out for about 30 minutes if you have that kind of time to spare.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake, covered for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until the bread is golden brown and the mixture is set.  I found that mine took a lot longer to bake because I put mine in the oven cold.  I think letting it sit out a bit before putting it in the oven would help speed up the baking process.  I was getting hungry!

You can serve this with syrup or whipped cream.  We ate it as-is with some fresh berries on the side.  It needed nothing more.

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