Kitchen Confessions: Overnight French toast a holiday favourite

Psssssttt…. Christmas is literally four sleeps away! You may have already planned the big meal already, but have you put any thought into all the other gathering days around and in between now and New Year’s? It can be stressful trying to figure out how to feed everyone that’s coming in and out during this time, but I think I have something will save you a ton of time this holiday “brunch” season.

Today we’re going to talk about … stuffed French toast.

As if French toast isn’t awesome enough on its’ own, but I want you to wrap your minds around the word “stuffed “ meaning “stuffed with goodness” – and as with all of my recipes, there is built-in adaptability for all of your peeps that is only limited to your imagination. The other great thing about this recipe is that it’s actually prepped the night before in under half an hour and baked in the oven the next morning. So easy!

The Basics:

1 large day old loaf of French bread OR 2 baguettes, cut into about 1” slices

200 grams shaved black forest ham

1 pkg of creamy Havarti cheese slices

Small container apricot jam

6 large eggs

1 ½ cups milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing sugar and maple syrup to serve

The Method:

The night before, get everything prepped; grease a 9×13” baking dish with butter or whichever non-stick cooking spray you have. Slice your bread evenly; if you’re feeding a crowd or having a buffet with a lot of other foods, I would recommend the baguettes because then you can offer a smaller portion, otherwise if you’re feeding this to about four to six people, use the larger French loaf. You’re basically going to be making a bunch of little sandwiches, which you will lay out into the baking dish. The order in which you do this is entirely up to you, but I would recommend spreading one half with jam, then pile up some ham, then a slice of cheese, then the next slice of bread. It’s that easy. Now, in a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid over top of the prepared bread, making sure that everything is coated and then cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap. I sometimes turn the sandwiches halfway through, but you can also do that right before putting into the oven. You can let this marinate for about nine hours.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350F and remove the plastic wrap off of the dish and replace with tinfoil. Bake with foil cover for 30 minutes, remove foil and then bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for about five minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with maple syrup and whatever other toppings you would serve with regular boring old French toast.

I mentioned the adaptability of this recipe; let me throw out a couple of other combos for your consideration: smoked turkey and gouda; rosemary ham and brie; corned beef and Swiss cheese; or thinly sliced back bacon and cheddar. Remember you can also swap out regular bread for gluten free bread too.

No matter what you cook up over the holidays, the most important thing is that you are together with your favorite people and having a good time.Shannon Yacyshyn’s Kitchen Confessions column runs every second Thursday in the Red Deer Advocate.

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