Salted Caramel Banana Nut French Toast Casserole
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A quick and easy overnight banana nut french toast layered with salted caramel and pecans. You can assemble this ahead of time and bake it fresh for breakfast or brunch! Topped with cinnamon streusel and it tastes just like homemade banana bread!
Say hello to your weekend plans, friends!
Banana bread french toast casserole? Yum. Yes, please! This little number is after my heart. I’m sure most of you are making preparations for Easter brunch and this french toast casserole is absolutely perfect for it. Or any weekend really. And the best part? You can make this the night before and just bake it off fresh in the morning to serve your guests. And no one needs to know that the best banana nut flavored french toast of your life was a cinch to whip up.
And if you’ve already got your brunch menu set for the weekend, there is still time to make edits. Especially when i’m bringing you layers of bread and custard with lots of drizzled salted caramel and toasted pecans.
Yes, this is taking brunch to a whole new level.
I don’t know about you but I LOVE french toast. From the crispy edges to the sweet centers soaked in luxurious custard with lots of fresh fruit and a drizzle of warm syrup on top. But let’s face it, making individual french toasts can be time consuming! All that bread soaking and frying each slice up individually. It’s delicious but it’s hard work. And hard work is the last thing I want to do first thing in the morning. Especially when you’re preparing them for a crowd. So wanna know the ultimate breakfast comfort food short cut? Turning it into a french toast casserole. All you need to do is slice and serve. And even your pickiest eater will gobble this up because it’s FRENCH TOAST, right?
And on top of it being a simple recipe, you can make it ahead the night before and just bake it off in the morning before you serve it. This banana nut french toast casserole is anything but selfish!
It’s making it almost impossible for you to not make it, isn’t it?
This french toast was heavily adapted from my autumn version — the pumpkin french toast casserole. It’s because once a year just wasn’t enough! So I had to turn it into something we could enjoy during the springtime too.
First thing first. I know I always get on my soap box about this but, always remember that a delicious french toast casserole always starts with day old bread. So plan ahead. If you’re using fresh bread, it will not absorb all the custard for this recipe. And custard is 50% off french toast isn’t it? For the bread, I suggest using something that’s good quality and sturdy. I used a loaf from my local bakery that makes it fresh. I recommend challah bread, french toast casseroles are always worth the splurge. Challah bread has a beautiful rich, yellow tone because it’s made with more eggs than traditional bread, hence, the reason it’s perfect to make french toast casserole with. If you can’t find challah, don’t worry traditional french bread will work too!
And now that custard. It’s a simple combination of milk, eggs, a splash of half and half, a couple of bananas, a little sugar, and a big dash of cinnamon. I blended everything up in the blender because you want that banana flavor to really soak into the bread as it sits.
To make the breakfast casserole extra decadent, I used a good drizzle of salted caramel and a handful of pecans in between the layers. It’s as simple as layering half the bread chunks into the greased casserole dish, followed by a healthy drizzled of homemade salted caramel, and a good sprinkle of pecans, finishing it off with the remaining bread chunks. If you aren’t a fan of pecans, walnuts would be great in this recipe too.
Then I just poured on the custard mixture and let the bread soak it all up for a few hours. This french toast casserole can be ready to bake in as little as 3-4 hours but I do encourage you to let it sit overnight as the custard really helps flavor everything so much more.
While the oven is preheating, I like to pull the casserole out of the refrigerator just to take the chill off a little. This is when you can make your streusel topping, which is just brown sugar, flour, cold cubed butter, and a big pinch cinnamon. Break the butter down with your fingertips working quickly to make sure it holds it’s shape. Sprinkle it on the french toast casserole and just let it bake for just under an hour. For my gluten-free friends, you can replace the french bread in this recipe with a gluten-free version. For the streusel, you can replace the flour with gluten-free oat flour and it should come out just the same!
I like to let the french toast sit for a few minutes before slicing into it. And just look at those layers of bread with pecans hidden in between! Serve it with another drizzle of salted caramel if you’d like, some powdered sugar, and fresh strawberries or sliced bananas!
All the flavors of banana bread with salted caramel and pecans in the form of breakfast? This is a no brainer!
french toast casserole:
- 1 (day old) French bread (brioche, or challah), diced
- ½ cup salted caramel sauce
- ½ cup toasted pecans (or walnuts)
- 2 cups whole milk (see note)
- ½ cup half and half or heavy cream (see notes)
- 6 large eggs
- 2 medium ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ cup EACH light brown sugar AND all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cold salted butter, diced
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE: Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place ½ the diced bread in the casserole dish, followed by ½ the salted caramel sauce and ½ the toasted pecans. Repeat with the diced bread, followed by the remaining caramel and pecans, set aside. In a blender, combine the milk, half and half, eggs, banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour the prepared custard over the bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and preferably overnight.
- STREUSEL: When ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes while the oven preheats. Combine the light brown sugar, butter, all-purpose flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your finger tips, mix together until the butter breaks down into smaller pieces. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the french toast casserole.
- BAKE: Bake for 45-55 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. If your streusel starts to brown too much at any point, tent with a piece of foil. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with additional salted caramel sauce, powdered sugar, sliced bananas, and strawberries.
- TO AVOID USING COWS MILK: replace the 2 cups milk with 1(15-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk and replace the ½ cup half and half with ½ cup soy/almond/coconut milk.
- TO MAKE THIS GLUTEN-FREE: Replace the regular bread with gluten-free bread and replace the all-purpose flour in the streusel with gluten-free oat flour.
- These can also be baked as individual french toast cups. Use these ingredients and follow the instructions listed here.
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*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional facts are for 1/10th of the recipe using half and half.
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