Making French Toast For a Crowd
I need a few ideas for making a sort of "hangover brunch" for a group of about 20. I'd like some things that I can do ahead of time so I am not doing a lot of the cooking that actual morning. Initially I'm thinking of a quiche, some sort of fruit salad, morning cocktails & a french toast dish that I can assemble the night before & just bake in the morning. Anyone have any ideas?
Jumping in a bit late here to third the Creme Brulee French Toast. Didn't realize it was on Epicurious. I discovered it in the big yellow Gourmet book and make it whenever I have overnight guests. I love being able to prep the night before and just stick it in the oven the next morning and I've yet to find anyone who doesn't love it.
I can second this paula deen recipe, I make this dish quite often when I'm doing brunch for a crowd. It is soooo good, but you don't need additional syrup at the end because it kind of makes its own. I don't even want to think about how bad it must be for you, but it will certainly get eaten up with a crowd.
Ina Garten has two recipes for breakfast bread pudding - essentially bread or croissants soaked in a custard of eggs and milk, and then baked. Same taste as french toast, but all you have to do is put the pre-made dish (can do it the night before) into the oven before breakfast time.
I didn't have a problem with the top recipe made with challah bread (I have not made the one with croissants).
I think the best way to prevent sogginess is to keep the depth of the casserole to a minimum. Pick a dish that is wider and more shallow (use two separate smaller dishes if you dont have the size you need). This way the eggs and bread will easily cook all the way through, and you wont end up with soggy or undercooked eggs in the middle.
You could also add an extra egg or reduce the amount of half and half or milk. It also helps if you are using a dryer or older bread, vs a very soft fresh baked one that wont soak up as much of the custard.
I have an overnight french toast recipe that i make for situations like this. I use a crusty french or italian bread for it, make it in a 9x13 pyrex pan, and i cook it covered for about 20 minutes and then uncovered for the remaining 15-20 minutes. it puffs up like a souffle when it's done, not soggy at all.
here is a quick version of the recipe:
1 loaf bread, cubed
1 8 oz block of cream cheese, cubed
8-10 eggs, beaten
1.5 cups milk
3/4-1 cup real maple syrup
layer the bread and cream cheese in a buttered pan, mix all the wet ingredients, add the cinnamon to them, pour over top. fridge overnight, bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes
a savory version can be made by subbing in shredded cheddar or other cheese, cooked bacon or breakfast sausage or cubed ham, and leaving out the syrup.
There is a restaurant south of Boston that makes "French toast" out of all sorts of baked goods, including Portuguese sweet bread and danish. I can envision making it with day-old donuts, coffee rolls, sticky buns....those would create a pan-fried version of bread pudding.
This is an overnight French toast (a friend calls it skiers's toast). It's pretty good -- we like to bake a bit longer so the top is crispy and the inside stays moist. My friend also tried it adding some liquer which also worked nicely.
Good luck with your brunch.
Overnight French Toast
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, plus more for greasing pan
2 tsp. cinnamon
18 slices Italian or French bread (we like Pani de Casaor other crusty bread)
3 cups milk
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla
Melt the brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in saucepan.
Lay some of the bread slices in bottom of a well greased 9x13 baking pan.
Drizzle part of the butter mixture over the bread, add more bread, repeating to make 3 layers, ending with the drizzle mixture.
Mix the remaining ingredients, and pour over the bread.
Cover with foil, and refrigerate over night.
Bake at 350* for 1 hour covered, then for 15 minutes uncovered.
I have a similar recipe from Cooking Light, but it calls for spreading the bread slices with orange marmalade instead of the brown sugar-butter-cinnamon mixture, and sprinkling with a few handfuls of chopped pecans before baking. With a good hearty sourdough bread, nothing got soggy. Yum.
I made Bon Appétit's French Toast Bread Pudding this weekend for brunch with friends, and it was as good as their Baked French Toast recipe. Really yummy, and not as dessert-y as it sounds!
I've also made the Sticky Bun Bread Pudding for brunch- it got rave reviews. Both are fun twists on the standard recipes.