Friday, December 16, 2011

Nutella and Banana Stuffed French Toast Bake

The Background

I have wanted to find a way to do French Toast in a manner that would make it easier to serve to a larger crowd, something that can stand up to a little time in a chafing dish.  A quick Google search will give you a ton of inspiration for baked French Toast recipes.  Some are more akin to bread pudding, others more like a casserole.  As usual, this recipe is a combination of inspirations from across the web, twisted in my own mind to meet a distinct flavor.

The Ingredients

1 loaf French Bread
2-3 bananas, sliced
For the custard:
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
For the topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


Making It Work

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that much of the work and mess is done the night before.  Begin by slicing the loaf of French bread into thick slices.  I like my slices to be about 2 inches thick.  The end pieces won’t be used, the crust won’t absorb the custard.  Take each piece of bread and slice to, but not through the bottom crust.  This creates a pocket for your stuffing, in this case, the Nutella and bananas.  I can tell you though that there is no need to stop there,  I made an equally delicious variation where I whipped cream cheese and apple butter for the stuffing. 
Spread a thick, healthy portion of Nutella inside each slice of bread, and top the Nutella with several slices of banana.

Lay each stuffed toast piece into a buttered casserole dish, packing them together tightly.
In a medium mixing bowl, make the custard by stirring together the half and half, eggs, vanilla and brown sugar.  Make sure that the custard is well mixed, and that the sugar dissolves completely.
Pour the custard mixture evenly over the top of the bread pieces.  Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  By the morning, the custard should have absorbed into the bread, with very little remaining pooled in the bottom of the dish.

When you are ready to cook, remove the dish from the refrigerator and allow it to begin to warm to room temperature while the oven preheats to 350 degrees.

For the topping, slice a stick of butter into thin slices and mix in a small bowl with the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand.  Sprinkle this over the bread, covering well.

Bake for 45 minutes.  The topping should be browned and bubbling.  If not, return for another 10 to 15. 

This definitely does not need any maple syrup, but would do well topped with fresh fruit.  I probably don’t have to say this, but this is a rich, decadent dish.  A small piece of this dish served as part of a larger brunch offering is probably the best use of this recipe.