Who doesn't love brunch? It's a fun and relaxing way to savor the weekend with friends and family, especially when Bellini or Bloody Mary's are involved! It's an opportunity to slow things down and enjoy life before the hustle and bustle of the week starts up again.
Because relaxing and enjoying my company are the most important factors when hosting brunch, I like to steer clear of recipes that glue me to the stove. I don’t want the laborious job of griddling individual pancakes or pieces of French toast since that will keep me tied up in the kitchen.
The perfect solution is to find a recipe that can be prepared in a flash, dirties very few dishes, is big on flavor, and can feed a crowd. I know that’s a lot of requirements, but the solution is easy... Brioche French Toast Casserole with Blueberries!
This is not your average French toast for many reasons. In order to elevate the culinary experience I subbed in thick, buttery slices of brioche bread and added blueberries to make this a truly divine recipe. What is brioche you ask? Brioche is a soft and pillowy French bread that's high in butter and eggs giving it a rich and tender texture. It works as an excellent bread for sandwiches (think Croque Monsier and Monte Cristo), amazingly for bread puddings, and perfectly for crispy croutons. The dough is even shaped and baked into hamburger buns that will take your burger to the next level.
The awesome part of this recipe is that the bread gets layered into the buttered baking dish, sprinkled with the blueberries, and then the custard is poured right over the top of the bread. The bread soaks up the custard right in the casserole dish, making clean up really easy. You can even soak the bread overnight in your fridge, so all you have to do is pop it in the oven about 1 hour before brunch time.
Brioche French Toast Casserole with Blueberries
Yield: 4-6 servings
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 1 hour, 50 minutes
Butter as needed
Twelve 1 1/2-inch slices brioche
12 ounces blueberries
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Powdered sugar for dusting
Maple syrup as needed
1. Butter a baking dish, and lay the bread in two rows so they are slightly overlapping each other.
2. Scatter the blueberries over the bread, making sure you place some in-between the bread slices.
3. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, half and half, orange zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and salt.
4. Pour the custard over the bread, and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes but up to 2 hours, or even overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º.
6. Cover the French toast with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until the custard has set and the top is light golden brown, 30 to 35 additional minutes. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Tip: The custard will become puffy when fully cooked.
7. Dust the French toast with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup.
Serve some bacon or a fresh fruit salad on the side, and you’ve got a delicious meal to help you savor the weekend. Even better, you can take a load off and join us for Bellini Brunch in May. In addition to making French Toast Casserole, you’ll also be preparing Crab and Celery Deviled Eggs and Lemon Tartlets with Raspberries and Whipped Cream.
If you love brunch, and are looking for something special to do on Mother’s Day, we have a couple of great options for you. Our Mother's Day Demonstration Brunch is a great way to relax and enjoy a delicious meal as our chef demonstrates the recipes right in front of you. It’s like a live cooking show! If you rather be part of the action, then join us for our hands-on class, Take Your Mom to Paris cooking class. Either way, you’re in for a special treat!