Start Your Holiday Morning Off Right With This Butter Pecan French Toast Bake
So you love French toast (don't we all?), but have you ever made a French toast bake? Warm, sweet, and fresh outta the oven, this dish will warm up your morning and put you in the festive mood just as the holiday starts. It's all thanks to Tieghan of Half-Baked Harvest, so we'll let her take it from here!
Fall weekend mornings are made for this Baked Butter Pecan French Toast. Made with a warming vanilla and cinnamon egg custard, sweet maple, brown sugar, and pecans. It's baked until caramelized on top, and served warm with a cozy sweet bourbon maple syrup. Every piece of toast is soft, buttery, and custardy inside, yet caramelized around the edges. It's almost like creme brûlée. Add fresh whipped cream and…beyond delicious!
When it comes to holiday breakfasts, I am very specific. Christmas is without a doubt cinnamon rolls – usually on Christmas Eve morning, and if there's any leftover, they're snacked on throughout day. Christmas morning is my mom's Monkey Bread (an oldie but goodie!). In more recent years, we've been doing bacon and eggs too (I need a good savory casserole to make).
And for Thanksgiving? Well, that's my wild card. It can really be anything, but we love something on the sweeter side. This year, it's french toast. And probably these apple cinnamon rolls too, because we have a big group and both recipes are perfect.
But my goodness, this french toast is such a favorite.
The idea came from my baked cinnamon crème brûlée french toast that I shared a few years back. It's my favorite baked french toast.
I wanted to give it a fall spin. I loved the idea idea of butter pecan…it's my favorite flavor combination in November. So I went in that direction.
Start with the "gooey" bottom layer that almost makes this french toast similar to a sticky bun. It's a mix of brown sugar, maple, and butter. You'll layer it on the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle over some pecans.
This next step is key. The sweet maple butter caramelizes and thickens in the oven around the french toast. This leaves you with a sticky sauce surrounding each piece of toast.
It is delicious!
The custard is a simple mix of eggs, milk, cinnamon, orange liquor, and vanilla. I highly recommend using the orange liquor as it adds that touch of special flavor. And truthfully, you really should have a bottle of orange liquor on hand at all times. Especially during the holidays, it makes the perfect margarita.
Dip each piece of bread in the custard, then arrange in the baking dish. Pour over that remaining maple/butter sauce and top with pecans.
Once the french toast has been assembled, place it in the fridge for an hour, or up to overnight. This is great if you want to have breakfast already prepped and ready for baking in the morning!
Finish With The Syrup
While the french toast bakes, make the bourbon syrup. It's simply maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
It might not seem like much, but the touch of bourbon really gives the french toast some warming "November" vibes.
Serve as is, or dollop with whipped cream. Then add plenty of the bourbon maple syrup. It is perfection.
The nuts add crunch, and the sauce keeps everything sticky and delicious. The french toast itself is eggy and custard-like…all together it's the best!
Baked Butter Pecan French Toast
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup
- 7 tablespoons salted butter, melted
- 1 1/2 cups roughly chopped pecans
- 8 large eggs, beaten
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange liqueur)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 loaf challah bread, sliced into thick slices
- Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Grease a 9x13 inch-baking dish with butter.
- In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, maple syrup, and 6 tablespoons melted butter. Pour half the mixture into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half the pecans.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, Grand Marnier, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Submerge each piece of bread into the egg mix, allowing the bread to sit at least a minute to soak up the eggs. Arrange the bread in the baking dish. Pour the remaining egg mix over the bread slices. Then add the remaining brown/sugar maple mix.
- In a bowl, mix the remaining pecans, butter, and brown sugar. Sprinkle the nuts over the french toast.
- Cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. Bake for 45 minutes or until the French toast is golden and crisp. If the tops of the bread begin to brown too quickly, cover with foil.
- Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small pot, mix the maple syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer 5 minutes until thickened
- Serve the french toast warm, drizzled with syrup. Enjoy!
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New York Times bestselling cookbook author of Half Baked Harvest and Super Simple, Tieghan Gerard, creates recipes inspired by the people and places she loves most. A food photographer, stylist, and recipe developer, Tieghan shares her work on her blog, Half Baked Harvest. Follow along on her site and social channels for a hearty mix of savory, sweet, healthy, and indulgent recipes... with a good amount of chocolate.