Monday, November 5, 2012

Pumpkin French Toast Bake

1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch bread cubes (or about 4 cups crusty bread, cut into bite-size pieces) (I've used a store bread loaf as well - it just absorbs liquid more)
8 large eggs
1 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping
nuts, like pecan or walnuts (optional)

Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and place bread cubes in the dish. You want enough bread to fill the dish almost completely full.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, syrup, spices, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar and pumpkin puree until well combined. Pour over bread and mix with the bread (I used my hands, but you could use a large spoon) until all the bread is mostly covered (it was easier for me to mix in a large bowl and then dump it into the dish). Cover with plastic cling wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight (if you wanted to, you could also bake it at this time instead of letting it sit overnight).

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees, uncover and top with brown sugar and nuts (optional). Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and no longer wet.

Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. You can drizzle syrup (I spiced my syrup up with melted butter and cinnamon) all over the top before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered for up to a couple days.