Streusel Topped Overnight French Toast Bake makes waking up a joy! With caramel and nutty notes from the streusel topping and a moist french toast baked interior, this french toast bake is a seriously delicious, easy breakfast for a crowd.
Growing up I was never really a fan of french toast but this Streusel Topped Overnight French Toast Bake had made me a french toast fan and this overnight french toast is everything I’d want a sweet, french toast breakfast to be!
My parents (aka Mom) is a great cook but she didn’t really like french toast either, so my Dad was typically in charge of this breakfast. While my Dad’s pancakes were amazing — and something I still love — his french toast left more to be desired.
Dad’s french toast was made with thin, white sandwich bread that was soaked in egg and milk with a dash of cinnamon. By the time it made it to my plate, it had splotchy spots of brown, cooked egg on the outside and a mushy, soggy center. The best thing about Dad’s french toast was that it was topped with maple syrup. (I love you, Dad! In case you’re reading….)
Due of my childhood experience with french toast, it’s not a breakfast food I desire – ever. I don’t order it out when brunching on the weekends and I don’t believe I’ve ever attempted making it at home.
Except for this week.
This week, I found myself with an abundance of baguette slices after hosting a wine & cheese party. Not the one to waste food, I rattled by brain on what I could possibly make with 2 bags of sliced baguettes…..
It all sounded delicious but none of those options would use up all the bread I had in my pantry.
And then it hit me — french toast casserole!
It was finally my chance to create MY perfect french toast breakfast.
When I dream about what french toast could be, I have a few stand-out requirements, all of which went into this recipe:
- Sturdy bread — Bread that could hold up to the necessary wet ingredients required to make french toast. Luckily, my mix of day-old, crusty french and sourdough baguette slices were the perfect sturdy bread base!
- Depth of flavor — Since the french toast of my childhood was a bit one-note, I wanted mine to encompass all the best morning flavors – caramel, nuts, cinnamon, vanilla #allthethings
- Texture – In addition to the need for sturdy bread, which itself adds texture, I wanted my french toast to have a bit of crunch and chew to it, something more than the soggy toast of my years past. By adding a nut based streusel to the top of the french toast, made with brown sugar, butter, flour and spices, I not only achieved texture but also the additional depth of flavor I desired.
- Convenience – I don’t have the luxury of cooking a big breakfast during the week so this french toast had to be something that I could prep ahead and reheat or make in minutes. The desire for convenience led me to the overnight method.
Now, you may be thinking — if you soak your bread overnight, won’t you just end up with soggy baked bread in the morning?
Nope, not if you’re smart about it.
That trick behind this is to use OLD bread, which is exactly what I had with the day-old baguettes. It also helps to use a liquid that’s heavier than milk when soaking the bread and to add enough eggs so that when it bakes, everything tightens up, similar to a custard. I accomplished this by using a mix of milk, half and half, heavy whipping cream and 8 large eggs. The mixture was hardly enough to cover the bread and I found this to be perfect for the consistency of french toast I was hoping for — something similar to, but a tad thicker than, a bread pudding.
My favorite part about this recipe is the convenience of the overnight method. When making this recipe, you do all the heavy lifting for this dish the day before. Everything comes together in just a few easy steps — you can even prep the streusel ahead of time and store it in the fridge until morning.
The next morning, you cover the overnight french toast bake with the streusel topping and let it bake while you get ready for your day.
The result is a beautiful, streusel-topped overnight french toast bake that’s golden on the top, with caramel and nutty notes from the streusel topping and a moist french toast baked interior. Topped with a bit of maple syrup it’s heaven on a plate — or just a seriously good breakfast.
Either way, I think I’m now a french toast fan!
- 1 loaf day old bread*
- 1 cup 2% or whole milk
- 1½ cups half and half
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 8 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup chopped nuts**
- Lightly grease a 9x13 inch pan with butter
- Place the torn bread pieces into the pan and set aside
- In a medium size bowl, whisk the 8 eggs together
- To the eggs, mix in the sugar, milk, half & half, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread pieces
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight
- To make the streusel topping, add the butter, flour, brown sugar, and remaining spices to a food processor
- Pulse 5-6 times until crumbly
- Add in the nuts and pulse once or twice more until combined
- Cover the streusel mixture and refrigerate until ready to bake
- When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 350*
- Remove the bread for the refrigerator, top with streusel mixture
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden brown on top
- To serve, slice and top with maple syrup
** Walnuts, pecans or a mix of both will work just fine