The first time I hosted a holiday meal was about four and a half years ago. It was Thanksgiving and we had it at my house. When I think of that holiday, I think about how frantic I was all day and how it felt like I would never get everything done. I ran and rushed and was short with people … so not fun.
Man, have I come a long way. Holidays are no longer frantic here. I know how to plan and organize and it pays off in spades for my relaxation level. Making a meal isn’t just about choosing good dishes. It’s about choosing dishes that go well together and complement each other. Furthermore, it’s about planning the best method for cooking things and in what order. These days, I not only make a menu for a holiday meal, but I also time out everything and make whatever I can in advance.
When I was planning the menu for Easter brunch, I wanted to keep the hands-on cooking on Easter to a minimum. The ham was a given and an easy frittata fit the bill as well. I enlisted my husband to make eggs over easy and two potato hash browns. … But I wanted something sweet and breakfast-y too. I considered making and reheating pancakes, but reheated pancakes are never that good.
Then I remembered: Cate had posted about a make-ahead French toast recipe last summer that had me drooling. I inquired about the recipe and she forked it over (and might have cursed me a bit for making her mouth water at the thought too).
The name: Creme Brulee French Toast (though admittedly, that is a bit of a misnomer since you never actually brulee the French toast). It’s a delicious, sweet, crave-worthy dish that comes together really quickly and sits overnight before baking to an ooey-gooey, sweet and tender French toast. Absolutely divine. Above, you see only the browned side, but at the bottom of the pan is the caramel-y goodness that is the piece de resistance of this dish (sorry no pics of that — it was devoured too quickly).
This is a fantastic celebration, special occasion, happy day breakfast … I can’t thank Cate enough for this delightful, delectable, delicious recipe. It’s a family fav.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, (1 stick)
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 12 1- inch slices of French bread, (about 3/4 of a large loaf)
- 6 large eggs
- 1-1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup and continue stirring until the sugar dissolves and it becomes a smooth liquid. Pour into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan, tilting the pan so that it spreads out evenly in the bottom. It will get thick and unpliable quickly.
- Arrange the bread slices in the baking dish, pressing into the butter mixture. You may need to cut some in half to fit them all.
- Whisk the eggs, half and half, vanilla extract and salt together until fully combined. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. It will look like a lot of egg, but don't worry. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, remove the French toast from the fridge, remove the plastic and let sit for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle the cinnamon evenly on the bread slices.
- Bake, uncovered for 40-55 minutes, until it puffs up and is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.