Baked French toast is the lasagna of breakfast – prepare it in advance so you can lounge in your PJs with the rest of the family instead of being a stove slave stuck frying toast while listening to the muffled laughter of your family in the other room.
This baked French toast has three layers of goodness. Its base is a warm, gooey mixture of maple and bananas (when serving, make sure to scoop all the way to the bottom of the pan so you don’t miss this part!). The bananas are covered in a moist, eggy challah with a touch of ginger. The whole thing is then topped with crunchy walnuts and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips) and more maple. Hungry yet?
Because this recipe is for French toast and not French cake, you can eat as much as you like guilt-free, right?
Baked French Toast Recipe
I came up with my baked French toast recipe by adapting the banana praline French toast recipe at Inn Cuisine,which was adapted from Good Housekeeping and Donna Diegel, Providence Food Examiner. The baked French toast recipe uses six eggs, so it was a great way for me to use up the eggs from the egg shells that I baked cupcakes inside of.
Baked French Toast with Bananas, Walnuts, and Cacao Nibs
For the banana base
- 1/2 C unsalted butter room temperature
- 1/2 C light brown sugar
- 1/4 C maple syrup
- 3-4 ripe bananas cut diagonally in 1/2-inch slices
For the bread
- 1 loaf challah approximately 21 ounces, or 1 pound 5 ounces, cut in 1" thick slices
For the custard
- 6 large eggs
- 2 C milk
- 1/4 C unsalted butter melted
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ginger
For the nut topping
- 1/2 C chopped walnuts
- 1/4 C cacao nibs shown in the photo or chocolate chips
For the second topping
- 2 tbsp maple sugar regular granulated sugar would also work
Liberally butter a 14" x 8" baking dish and set aside.
Prepare the banana base:
In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix all banana base ingredients. Cook until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.
Remove pan from heat and pour into the buttered baking dish, spreading evenly as necessary.
Atop the banana base, add challah - laying slices on their side and creating 2 (up to 3, if necessary) even, equal layers.
Prepare the custard mixture:
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, melted butter, sugar, vanilla bean paste, and ginger until thoroughly incorporated.
Slowly pour custard mixture over challah slices, covering bread thoroughly.
Using a large, flat spatula, firmly press bread slices down into baking dish until all slices have absorbed the custard mixture and layers appear evenly wet. The challah acts like a big sponge.
Repeat this pressing process again, making sure bread is evenly soaked.
Top casserole evenly with walnuts and nibs.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap (or aluminum foil) and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake in the morning, preheat oven to 350 F.
Remove dish from refrigerator, uncover, and sprinkle top evenly with maple sugar.
Bake for approximately 45-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted (in 2 or 3 places) near center comes out clean. I would err on the side of under-baking rather than over-baking. It's not as good if it gets dried out.
Allow casserole to cool approximately 10 minutes before serving.