A friend asked me recently what she should serve for a holiday brunch she had coming up with multiple families coming over. She was feeling anxious. And I totally get it. Last time I hosted a brunch, I accidentally dripped some water into a pan of frying eggs and the oil sputtered INTO MY EYEBALL.
(I burned my cornea, and the eggs were eventually served not only overcooked, but also cold, and seasoned with a few tears.)
Breakfast is really a bit of a tricky meal to serve a crowd. Any incarnation of eggs other than scrambled requires sweating and stressing over a hot stove. Pancakes and waffles are a make-to-order kind of thing, with a lot of time spent flipping and pacing.
What my friend, and anyone serving brunch, needs is recipe to feed a hungry morning crowd with minimal effort, low stress, and high reward. Something you can pull off even before caffeine. Something that doesn’t necessitate judging doneness of yolks while simultaneously not burning toast.
Enter the overnight breakfast bake. You know the kind. They were called “wife-savers” in our parents’ day, a cheeky 50s-era pun nodding to the ease of morning preparation. Their main feature is that they can be made the night before. All you have to do is roll out of bed, start the coffee maker, and put your hair in a ponytail – boom, ready for guests. They can be sweet or savoury.
This particular Baked French Toast not only fits the wife-saving (cringe) criteria, it is also crazy delicious. I pride myself on pretty decent willpower and couldn’t resist a third slice this morning.
I partnered with Tropicana Canada on the recipe. The custard base is made of Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice (which is 100% OJ squeezed from fresh oranges; no sugar added, not from concentrate), fresh cream, maple syrup and vanilla.
I adore cream, vanilla and orange together – think creamsicle. The citrus flavour is fragrant but not bracing. The combination is delicate and delicious. You’ll swoon.
With the orange, the french toast already has an air of Christmas, but I showered it with confectioners’ sugar, sliced clementines, and a few almonds to make it even more special. A scattering of pomegranate arils would also be beautiful.
The recipe serves about five, assuming your guests have more restraint than I do (it makes ten slices). You can easily double it and bake two pans at the same time, just rotate their oven positions about half-way through.
If you want an easy side, bake a pan of bacon or sausages in the oven at the same time (the bacon will need a few minutes longer than that recipe suggests as the oven temperature is a bit lower).
I made some yummy recipes with Tropicana around this time last year, too – the Christmas Sangria recipe is a definite repeat, so delicious. And in case you missed it, you must try this delicious Mulled Wine recipe I shared recently (I made it four times that week and got an enthusiastic stamp of approval from not one, but TWO German friends – and Germans invented it, sooooo….).
Orange Vanilla-Cream Baked French Toast
- 10 thick slices of day-old white or challah bread
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup Tropicana Orange Juice
- 1/3 whipping cream
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 9x13x2 baking dish with parchment paper.
- Crack eggs into a large bowl and lightly beat with a whisk. Whisk in orange juice, cream, maple syrup and vanilla extract.
- Dip slices of bread in egg mixture one at a time, then arrange in overlapping, semi-standing-up layers in baking dish (as pictured). Drizzle with melted butter.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until crispy and golden. If you're questioning doneness, internal temperature should reach 160ºF.