Baked Creme Brulee French Toast
The easiest baked creme brulee french toast recipe, and it feeds a crowd! The bottom is loaded with a caramel glaze, and the custard is rich and creamy! The best part is, you can make it ahead.
Creme brûlée french toast made in the oven.
This french toast bake has Christmas morning breakfast written all over it. And then again for New Year’s morning breakfast, because hey, if you start the year off on a sweet note, hopefully, it won’t treat you wrong, right? Oh, that’s not a thing? Well, it should be. Come January 2nd more than a few of us will be running (pun intended) to the gym, we might as well enjoy the last few days of the year!
But generally, my creme brûlée french toast can be made all year round because this custard is so creamy and delicious, I’m sure it’ll impress all your house/brunch guests!
I have to admit; I ended up freezing a big batch of creme brûlée french toast because there was a genuine possibility that when hubby was off at work, I’d be at my desk with a more than a generous portion of CB french toast nearby for at least a full week. That’s if it didn’t run out long before that! There are only two of us, and I can’t risk having something so dangerously delicious at hands reach.
It’s certainly no secret that I prefer my french toast in casserole form. I’ve shared my pumpkin french toast casserole recipe with you in the past, and so many of you loved it, so I decided it was high time to add a few more to the collection! Since then, I’ve shared a blueberry cream cheese french toast bake, and one for all those apples you’ll pick in the fall too. But today’s creme brûlée french toast is my favorite. It’s inspired by a creme brulle french toast recipe I made a few years ago when the blog was still brand new, and I was operating out of my two window apartment. Only this one feeds a whole lot more people, and it’s easier to prepare!
Things I love about it:
- I can make it ahead of time
- I don’t have to pan-fry individual slices
- No messy stove to clean afterward
- The oven does all the work for me
Ingredients in creme brulee french toast custard?
- light brown sugar
- half and half
- eggs + egg yolks
- almond extract
- grated or ground nutmeg
- sea salt
- vanilla greek yogurt
What’s half and half?
I often get questions from international cooks on what half and half is. Half and Half is a product available in the dairy section, and it contains a percentage of cream and milk. If you can’t find or don’t have access to half and half, feel free to replace it with ¾ cup milk and ¾ cup heavy cream.
What’s in the caramel glaze?
- maple syrup
The maple syrup can be swapped for corn syrup or golden syrup as well. For today’s creme brûlée french toast, I found a vanilla-flavored maple syrup at Trader Joes for the holidays, and I had been itching to use it, and this recipe seemed like the perfect opportunity. My gosh, it’s fantastic! I hope it’s not a limited time product because it’s so so good! Did I mention there’s a whole vanilla bean in there and it’s speckled with vanilla bits too?
What kind of bread works best for creme brulee french toast?
- Brioche – usually the best bread for french toast but it’s also a little pricier because it contains tons of eggs, milk, and heaps of butter.
- Challah – this is the kind that I prefer to use. It’s typically braided in some form and made without dairy (so no butter or milk here!) Challah bread contains eggs, flour, yeast, water, and salt.
- French bread – this kind of bread requires the longest soaking time. It’s perfect if you’re preparing french toast overnight it’s also the most economical of the three options I’ve shared. It’s what I use when I can’t find good Challah bread at the store!
What if I don’t have stale bread?
The key to making a good French toast is using stale or day old bread. If you decide to make this last minute and don’t have access to stale bread, here’s a tip. Cut the bread in slices, then pop it onto a sheet pan and into a 350ºF preheated oven for roughly 15-20 minutes or until it just barely starts to brown and the bread feels crunchy and hard to the fingertips. Then just let it cool for a few minutes until it reaches room temperature. Carry on with my creme brûlée french toast recipe from there.
How to make the best creme brulee french toast:
- make the caramel. Combine butter, sugar, and maple syrup in a bowl and microwave it on high. Pour it into a baking dish.
- add sliced bread to the baking dish
- combine everything for the french toast custard
- pour it on top
- let it sit for 4 hours or overnight
- bake and eat
- My gluten-free folks, swap the bread for GF bread.
- You can serve this with whipped cream and strawberries on the side in the warmer months and sliced almonds and powdered sugar in the winter or with mandarin oranges or cranberries or blackberries. So many serving possibilities here to explore!
- Your french toast is done when the slices are puffy, and the bread starts to brown. If you feel your slices are browning too early, just use a piece of foil to tent the top loosely.
- If your Challah bread is enormous (my loaf was humongous this time around) just cut slices and then cut them down the middle for better portions.
Can I freeze leftovers?
Yes! We’ve made some many french toast bakes (and have frozen just as many), so I’m confident that you can easily freeze this. I suggest cutting it into squares or freezing individual slices in freezer-safe bags or boxes so that it’s easy to defrost in the refrigerator overnight and enjoy in the morning!
Why to make creme brulee french toast:
- It feeds a crowd!
- You can prepare everything ahead of time and then just baked the morning of
- All the ingredients are simple to find in almost any grocery store!
- Frozen leftovers are great for when you want homemade french toast without all the effort!
A warm mug of holiday blend coffee with a generous serving of creme brûlée french toast is the perfect Christmas morning treat!
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 cup light brown sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 (1 lb.) loaf challah or French bread
- 1 ½ cup half and half
- 5 large eggs + 2 egg yolks
- ¼ teaspoon EACH: almond extract AND ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons vanilla Greek yogurt
- slivered almonds + powdered sugar +whipped cream, for topping, if desired
- BRULEE BOTTOM: Add the butter, ½ cup of brown sugar, and maple syrup to a microwave safe bowl (or measuring cup) and zap for 1-2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is warm. Stir using a rubber spatula; set aside.
- PREP: Spray a 13x9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the prepared sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan, spread it out. Place the sliced bread in the pan. In a medium bowl, add the remaining ½ cup brown sugar along with the half and half, eggs + yolks, almond extract, ground nutmeg, sea salt, vanilla, greek yogurt, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour the prepared custard over the bread. Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and ideally, overnight.
- BAKE: Remove the casserole from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to baking. When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake the casserole for 35-45 minutes or until the bread puffs up and browns on top. Allow the french toast to cool for a few minutes before plating. Top with sliced almonds powdered sugar if desired. Serve with whipped cream!
- If you don't have half and half, feel free to replace it with ¾ cup milk and ¾ cup heavy cream.
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