Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole

Autumn-fresh apples, spice, and a tantalizing streusel topping earns this make ahead, bake the next day Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole rave reviews from cooks and diners alike!

Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole by Cakewalker

Sleeping In

Sleep. That coveted state of rest and renewal where unconsciousness rules while the body manufactures vital hormones—shifting some for immediate deployment while others are stowed away. Science? Absolutely. Heavenly? Yes!

I’m great at falling asleep. Staying asleep, however, can be elusive at times. There’s my favorite wakeup cycle at 3 AM; brings me right to the surface. I’ve learned to embrace it. Those familiar with the supernatural know it as the witching hour. Sometimes I’m lucky to nod off back to sleep, but mostly I lay quietly, listening, observing light changes and shadows while thoughts come and go for the couple of hours that follow.

A post shared by Brooks Walker (@cakewalkr) on

I’m a man of convenience. If there’s a contraption that will peel, slice and core, I’m on it!

That’s why I rely on opportunities to sleep in, a chance to recover that which was lost. As it goes, though, for longer than a year, my days, all seven of them in the week, begin with the alarm clock sounding off, or because I’ve already been awake I watch it to the last minute and turn it off before it sounds.

Sleep. Sigh.

This past weekend circumstances presented an occasion where Saturday and Sunday morning needed no alarm clock setting. Joy, right? You betcha! Not only did the morning sun see me before I saw it, I was able to prepare weekend breakfasts for the family—another favorite pastime. Enter make-ahead-bake-in-the-morning breakfast while you luxuriously sip fresh-brewed coffee in bed with your lover.

Apple Pie Spice by CakewalkerInstagram @cakewalkr: My secret weapon – a custom blend of apple pie spice!

Mrs. W recently spotted this baked French toast casserole recipe and gave it a try putting her spin on it. As the recipe was written, it calls for the preparation and bake of the dish to occur in a single start-to-finish sequence. Mrs. Dubs didn’t want the lengthy fuss first thing in the morning so she prepared it for an overnight stay in the fridge similar to other baked French toast recipes, to then bake and devour in the morning. Smart lady—I married well. It was this occasion we served the scrumptious meal with warmed pure maple syrup. Divine it was, with a capital D.

Challah by CakewalkerInstagram @cakewalkr: Sometimes I bake something solely for the purpose of using it as an ingredient in another dish. 

Presented here and following her cue is my take on the recipe. I did use the syrup made from the reserved apple cooking liquid and I did use booze; a good splash of Grand Marnier where it calls for the Calvados apple brandy as there wasn’t any on hand. It lent a similar European flavor, that je ne sais quoi associated with French cooking. This version amped up the flavor by using apple pie spice and yielded a finished casserole as tasty and enjoyable as the first.

For holidays when you want an exquisite breakfast with minimal morning effort, or you seize an opportunity to sleep in and linger in bed over coffee while the oven does the work, this recipe will tick all the boxes. Enjoy!

Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole - CakewalkerRecipe adapted from Bobby Flay

Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Apple Crisp French Toast Casserole

Ingredients

  • French Toast and Caramelized Apples:
  • 1 loaf of day-old challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider, plus more for syrup if needed
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 Gala apples*, peeled, cored and diced
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples*, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 tablespoons apple brandy, such as Calvados (optional)
  • Streusel:
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Casserole:
  • Softened butter for greasing the baking dish
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 275° F.
  • For the French toast and caramelized apples: spread the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Combine the sugar, apple cider, and lemon juice in a large, high-rimmed sauté pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir in the apples and cook, occasionally stirring gently, until softened and caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the apple brandy if using; cook a few minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a bowl (let the apples drain with each spoonful—you don't want the apples to be too wet); set aside to cool. Reserve the apple cooking liquid for a later step.
  • For the streusel: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade (or do by hand with a pastry blender) pulse together the flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt until well mixed. Add the butter and pulse a few times more until well combined (you’ll see the mixture becomes moistened and clumped). Refrigerate for 15 minutes. Squeeze the mixture in your hands to form larger and smaller clumps; keep chilled until called for.
  • For the casserole: Generously butter a 9x13-inch baking dish with some softened butter. Whisk the eggs, vanilla and apple pie spice (or cinnamon) in a mixing bowl until smooth. Whisk in the half-and-half until well blended. Add the toasted bread to the prepared baking dish. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, gently pressing the cubes down to even the top. Layer the caramelized apples evenly over the bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
  • The next day: Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  • Remove the foil cover and scatter the streusel evenly over the top of the apples. Place the foil back on the baking dish to cover. Transfer the covered casserole to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed and lightly golden brown, another 30 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Meanwhile, reheat the reserved apple cooking liquid. (If very thin, simmer briefly over medium heat until reduced to a syrup-like consistency; if there isn't much reserved liquid, add some apple cider and simmer briefly.) Turn the heat to low and whisk in the cold butter, piece by piece, until emulsified. Serve as syrup with the French toast, or for another fabulous flavor profile, serve the casserole with warmed pure maple syrup instead.

Notes

*You may use any apple varieties you desire. Fresh fall apples will yield the best flavor and texture; a mixture or tart and sweet apples is sensational.

An alternate method to assembling the casserole is to add/mix the apples along with the bread cubes instead of layering the fruit on top, then proceed to covering and refrigeration. If you wish to make and serve the casserole on the same day, fill the baking pan with the bread, apples and egg mixture, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. The bread should absorb the egg mixture prior to baking. Top with streusel and bake as directed.

http://cakewalkr.com/apple-crisp-french-toast-casserole/

Comments

  1. I’m a sucker for fall apple treats! This French toast casserole looks like one dreamy, scrumptious treat! Mrs. W created a winner.

  2. Hi Brooks, Challah bread makes the best french toast! This is a great recipe for a brunch and the addition of the apples is perfect for autumn. The photo with the syrup pouring is perfect … I can taste it. Thanks for the video on the grape clusters. I made grape cutout cookies and cannot come up with a design idea. Your grape clusters may be the one! Enjoy the rest of autumn in CA. Joan

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’re welcome, Joan. If the cookie design works for your intention, I just know they’re going to be as beautiful as all your creations are! Thanks for the recipe compliment and happy fall!

  3. Oh my, Brooks, how I’d like to be tucking into this right this minute! So autumnal and so full of flavor AND it looks gorgeous with that streusel topping. Made ahead of time is an added bonus.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Advance preparation makes for leisurely mornings. Thanks for the lovely comment, Jean!

  4. Yum! I was just thinking of French toast as I was coming home front work. What an excellent coincidence! I’m going to give this a whirl.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      I think you’ll find the casserole to be as tasty as it looks. Great to have you here, Jeff. Cheers!

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