Back in October (October? Has it been that long?!?) I had plans to go to a potluck brunch and when I thought about what I wanted to bring I instantly had an idea. French toast bread pudding. I absolutely adore bread pudding and french toast is a relatively obvious breakfast choice so why not combine them?!? It sounded delicious and perfect for a potluck situation when a casserole-like dish would be so much easier to bring and keep fresh-tasting than servings of french toast which would probably stick together, get cold and be limp before anyone could dig in.
I knew I could probably wing it and be okay but I decided to Google "french toast bread pudding" to see if I could find any existing recipes or at least get an idea of what others did. I found a few but none were exactly what I had in mind. Some had the nutmeg and cinnamon I knew would make it taste warm and fall-y but didn't have the maple flavor, others had the maple but didn't use the light, egg-y challah that I knew would be so good in this dish, and so on and so forth. So I took the parts of each I liked and made my own Franken-recipe. I do this a lot. Really. A. Lot.
So here is what I came up with and it is wonderful. Not overly sweet on it's own but puffy and light with a slightly crispy top. Add a smidge of your favorite syrup and it's perfect! Enjoy!
French Toast Bread Pudding
(recipe loosely adapted from Dozen Flours)
1 (1 pound) loaf challah, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes evenly in the dish. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and 3 tbsp syrup. Pour over bread cubes, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and maple syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Bread pudding should be puffed, browned and crisp on top. Serve with maple syrup!
PS: On another, slightly related, note here are some pictures of the lovely ladies that attended that brunch. Kristen and I are both there, can you spot us? Well, if not, the next picture is just us. Don't ask what was so amusing?!?! I couldn't begin to tell you. :-)