When you have company, and especially if you have kids around the house, this is one of those “slam it out of the ballpark” recipes you should have in your collection. It’s easy to put together the day before you need it, then you are ready to go within an hour in the morning — with no fuss. Everyone REALLY likes this!
- Butter, 2-3T at room temperature for greasing the baking dish
- 1 loaf of crusty bread – French or sourdough or other hearty bread
- 8-10 eggs
- 2-3 cups whole milk (may substitute 1 cup of half-and-half or cream)
- ½ C brown sugar
- ½ C white sugar
- 1 t salt
- 2-3 T vanilla extract
- ½ C flour
- ½ C brown sugar
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
- 2 t cinnamon
- ½ t nutmeg
- ½ t salt
- ½ C confectioner’s sugar
- 2 T maple syrup
- Warm syrup for pouring
- Whipped cream or cut-up fruit (optional) toppings
Begin by generously buttering a 9×13 or similar capacity baking dish. You can use an aluminum pan (½ steam table size) for easy cleanup. Use at least 2-3T soft butter for a nice thick buttery coating on the pan.
Tear (or cut) the loaf of bread into chunks (or cubes) – no larger than 1” pieces – dropping the pieces into the greased pan to form an even layer. If desired, leave the open pan on the counter for a couple of hours so the bread begins to lose some of its moisture.
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk together lightly, adding the milk, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Sometimes I use a blender – it’s quick and easy, if you have one handy. Pour the liquid mixture evenly over the bread in the pan and pat the bread down slightly with the palms of your hands to make sure each bread cube gets in contact with some of the liquid. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight (or at least a couple of hours).
For the topping, combine all ingredients into a food processor and pulse about 10 times until the butter is broken up into pieces the size of small peas. Alternatively, you can cut the butter into the flour using a pastry cutter or else 2 knives in a scissoring motion, then cut in sugar and spices. You can do this ahead and store, covered (or in a plastic bag) in the refrigerator with the casserole.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees before baking the casserole. Remove the foil, and sprinkle the topping even over the top of the casserole. Bake for 45 minutes until soft set or up to 1 hour for a firm and crispy texture. I prefer it to be well browned on the top.
For serving, you can dust with powdered sugar or make a glaze with powdered sugar & syrup, or just pour syrup over — or all of the above!
NOTE: vary the amount of eggs and milk mixture to suit your loaf of bread. Use a standard sourdough or French bread you can obtain in the bakery section of the grocery store. Sourdough works very well. For a larger loaf, use up the 10 eggs and 3 cups of milk.