Make yourself the hero of your house this weekend with this strawberry cream cheese French toast bake. Who knew that stale bread and those almost moldy strawberries would get you so far in life?
If you’re anything like me when you’re planning for a houseful of people over a weekend, there are a few things that make you incredibly anxious:
- The state of your bathroom(s). Are there enough clean towels?
- Or better yet, where are all of the towels?? How do we keep losing towels??
- And…the weekend menu.
And you would think, that as a food blogger for over 9 nine years (NINE! phew!), I’d have the food part handled.
It just gets harder and harder. So many ideas in my brain, so many recipes, and yet so little time to focus on planning better.
Half of the time, I’m just making up meals throughout the weekend.
You know: pulling random ingredients from the fridge and pantry with cookbooks strewn all over the place.
I’m a mess!
To be honest, I’m not that much more organized on the weekends when it’s just me and Kyle at home either.
Work kicks my butt during the week and I end up vegging out way more than I like to admit on the weekends.
But I mustered up the energy (it was minimal, believe me) to throw this strawberry cream cheese French toast bake together one Saturday night a few weeks back.
And I’ve been dreaming about it ever since!
Because: roasted strawberries. cream cheese. baked French toast. Do those words not make you want to just sing?!
I imagined the dish to be a bit like the strawberry stuffed french toast I made a few years ago but this was oh so much better. So much!
The roasted strawberries mingle up with pockets of soft, tangy cream cheese and play off the lightly sweetened French toast like they were always meant for the same dish.
Plus? It’s a make-ahead meal so in my opinion, Sunday mornings are never so outstanding as when breakfast practically makes itself.
Except when donuts happen, of course.
Do yourself a favor and make this French toast bake this weekend.
Your stale bread and almost moldy strawberries are calling you from the kitchen!
For the casserole:
- 16 oz day-old, thick-cut bread, like challah or a soft Italian bread (see note below)
- 4 large eggs
- 2 ½ cups half-and-half or milk
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tsp table salt
- 1 (8 oz) package full-fat cream cheese, cold and cubed
- 2 cups sliced strawberries, stems removed
For the topping:
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¼ tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cubed
- To make the casserole: Grease a 3-quart (13x9-inch) baking dish with butter or baking spray. Spread the bread cubes out in the dish in an even-ish layer.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs, half-and-half/milk, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt together until well-combined. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and press the bread lightly into the liquid. Scatter the cream cheese cubes around the bread, tucking it into some of the open spaces - you'll want it to get down into the middle of the bread layer. Scatter the strawberries over the bread in the same manner.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours.
- The next morning, take the dish out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 350° F with a racked centered in the oven.
- To make the topping: Stir the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Using two knives, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. The mixture won't be crumbly but just make sure the butter is pretty evenly distributed. Uncover the dish and sprinkle the topping over the top of the casserole.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes. The center should be set, the bread on top nicely browned, and the sugar in the topping caramelized. If the sugar is still uncooked on top, slip the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes to allow the sugar to brown - watch it carefully though as it can burn quickly. Serve with maple syrup or whipped cream (if you're feeling indulgent). We ate ours without anything on top and thought it was sweet enough as is.
Stale bread works best for this recipe but if you've got fresh bread, you can dry it out in the oven. Just cube it and toast it on a baking sheet for about 15 to 20 minutes at 350° F.
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