by David Leite
Serves 6 to 8
This make-ahead Sunday brunch dish offers big rewards while letting you sleep in late. If you have leftovers, which will be doubtful, cover the dish with foil and refrigerate. When ready to serve, reheat covered in a moderate oven until warmed through.—David Leite
Butter for greasing pan
One 24-ounce brioche loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes
One 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into 18 cubes
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
8 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cloves
4 tablespoons melted butter
Pure maple syrup, warmed
1. Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Place half the bread cubes in a single layer, filling in all the gaps. Evenly scatter the cream cheese cubes, nuts, and raisins on top. Cover completely with the remaining bread cubes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Evenly pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Gently press down on the cubes with your palms to allow the top layer of bread to absorb the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate four hours or overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Meanwhile, remove the dish from the refrigerator and let sit 20 minutes at room temperature. Bake the French toast covered for 20 minutes; uncover and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the cubes are nicely toasted and there’s no liquid puddling on the bottom. Transfer the dish to a rack and drizzle the melted butter on top. Run a knife around the rim of the pan to release the French toast. Let sit 5 minutes. Cut into squares, arrange on individual plates, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve along with the warmed maple syrup.
Recipe © 2004 David Leite. All rights reserved.