Confession time: I recently made dinner for one of my pastors. She fell and broke her wrist, and just a few days later her father-in-law passed away. I thought a homemade meal might help so I made a big pot of soup and some blueberry muffins. I was able to try out my new dual-fuel range (gas stovetop and electric oven). I had fun but will admit that all did not go well. I made the blueberry muffins late the night before I was delivering the meal. I was tired and in a hurry—not a good combination when you are baking in a new kitchen and don’t quite know the lay of the land yet. To make a long story short, I put baking soda, not baking powder, in the muffins. Good thing I thought they looked a little funny so I tasted one—ick! Into the trash they went. I made a second batch using the correct ingredients, and they were perfect. Yes, even someone who works in the Test Kitchens at Land O’Lakes goofs up in the kitchen once and awhile.
Despite my not-so-perfect first time in my new kitchen, I am ready to make good on one of my New Year resolutions—to entertain more. Although I still have lots of boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, I am really looking forward to using my new kitchen more and having friends over for good food and fellowship. This weekend I ran into some dear friends who would like to see the house. I thought it might be fun to have them over for brunch, so I began to plan my menu. That’s when Raspberry Almond French Toast Bake came to mind. It is made the day before and refrigerated overnight, making prep easy for entertaining in the morning. The raspberries add a nice contrast to the sweet topping on this oven-baked version of French toast, and, best of all, it tastes delicious.
This French toast bake needs to be prepared and refrigerated at least 8 hours, but no more than 24 hours, before you plan to bake and serve. The first step is to dry out cubed French or Italian bread. While you heat the oven to 325°F, cut the bread into cubes. I cut each slice of bread into six cubes.
Spread the bread cubes on two ungreased baking sheets and place them in the oven on separate racks. You want to give the bread cubes lots of room for the warm air to circulate.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. The bread cubes should be dry and just beginning to turn a light golden brown. Take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.
Now spray the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch glass baking pan or casserole dish. Set the dish aside while you prepared the egg mixture in a large bowl. Combine the half & half, whipping cream, orange juice, eggs, sugar, almond extract, orange zest and cinnamon. I know this sounds rich, and it is, but it really is better with half & half and whipping cream than milk. Don’t be tempted to substitute—just think of this as a special treat. Beat all these ingredients with a wire whisk until well mixed.
Add the dried bread cubes to the egg mixture and toss until well coated.
Add the raspberries and gently stir into the bread mixture until evenly distributed.
Spread the mixture into the prepared baking pan.
Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours but no more than 24 hours.
You can prepare the topping and refrigerate it as well, or wait and prepare it just before baking. To make the topping, just combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup in a small bowl, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the almonds. Throw it in a plastic food bag if you plan to store it in the fridge like I did—one less thing to think about the next morning.
When you are ready to bake the dish, heat the oven to 350°F. Crumble the topping over the bread mixture.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until puffed and golden. Be careful not to overbake. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Oh my goodness, a pan full of yumminess. I think my friends are going to think so too.
What’s your favorite way to make French toast? I’d love to hear about your recipe. And, please, if you make Raspberry Almond French Toast Bake, come back to rate and review it so I know what you thought of the recipe.