Here’s the thing: I’m not much of a meal planner.
When you’re not a meal planner, then you have to be quick on your feet when coming up with homemade meals. It means your pantry better be stocked with the basics, and you need to have some recipe ingenuity!
Kind of tired of the same ol’ weekend breakfast go-to’s, this past Saturday I perused a few recipes online to create something I could throw together and then bake in the oven. Here’s what I came up with – and unlike a lot of baked bread-based breakfast casseroles, you don’t need to let it soak for hours and hours beforehand. That means no planning; you can make it on a whim!
Walnut French Toast Bread Pudding Casserole
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes
6 slices sandwich bread, cut in 2″ pieces (or the equivalent in whatever kind of bread you have around)
1-1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
zest of one lemon
1 cup walnuts or sliced almonds*
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
butter for greasing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 1-1/2 quart baking dish; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and lemon zest. Add the bread, taking care that all the cubes have been coated. Pour the mixture into the buttered baking dish, and press down gently on the bread.
In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon cinnamon with 2 tablespoons sugar and then sprinkle it evenly over top of the bread. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly and the middle springs backs when you push on it with your finger. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes before plating.
Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or butter and maple syrup.
*I originally used walnuts in my recipe, but I found their flavor to be a bit overwhelming. And, while it was good, I would prefer the milder taste of sliced and toasted almonds – the nutty crunch would go really well with the cinnamon and sugar.