French toast breakfast bake

French toast meets bread pudding in this breakfast recipe. Sprinkle in a layer of chopped pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and then serve with maple syrup. 

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    Day-old bread is transformed into a decadent breakfast bread pudding with this recipe.
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Every time I plan to make bread pudding, I buy a loaf of challah from Trader Joe's and try to "stale it" by leaving it on the counter, untouched, before I use it. The leaving on the counter part is easy. The untouched part? Not so much. 

This is actually made with the second loaf of challah I bought because the one I purchased the week prior didn't make it long enough to go into bread pudding. For this one, I didn't even stale it properly because ... well, I usually try not to lie to myself that I'm not going to eat it if it's there. 

This is a simple bread pudding recipe that you can make up the night before and just bake when you're ready. If you tend to have busy mornings but want something simple to serve the next day for a breakfast or brunch, this is a good option. If you want a little more texture, sprinkle the top with chopped, toasted pecans before baking. I wouldn't advise including it in the streusel that gets soaked as part of the custard in the bread pudding as they'll just become soggy.

Recommended: Five breakfast meals to go

French toast breakfast bake
From Cookin' Food

1 loaf day old Italian Bread or other hard white bread (I used challah)

1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

5 eggs

1-1/4 cups milk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Grease an 8-by-8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Slice the bread into 8 to 10, 1-inch wide slices. Cut each slice into approximately one inch cubes. Note: Using day old, drier bread is key here. It soaks up the wet ingredients more thoroughly than fresh bread does.

3. In a small bowl, combine nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well.

4. Place half of the bread cubes in a single layer in the baking pan. Sprinkle half the sugar mixture on top of bread. Place remaining bread cubes on first layer and sprinkle remaining sugar mixture on top.

5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix well.

6. Pour egg mixture evenly over the bread mixture in baking pan. With a spatula, lightly press down on the bread to evenly coat it with the egg combination.

7. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight or for at least 5 hours. (That way the bread has time to suck up the custard mixture.)

8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake pan for 20 minutes, covered. Remove foil and continue baking uncovered for 30-40 minutes longer or until top looks browned and breakfast bake looks slightly puffed.

9. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in pan. Serve warm with maple syrup.

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