Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup

We had this for Easter Brunch right after church along with some ham, yummy!!!  This is a great recipe for the weekend as you put it together the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight.  It was really good, even though we had some oven mishaps along the way.  I have a double oven and I started this out in the bottom, bigger oven and when I opened it to check on the casserole the element starting sparking and caught on fire and then died, bummer!  So I moved it up to the top, smaller oven but it was too close to the top element there so it started to burn and I had to take it out again and cover the top with foil and then, finally, it was fine.  The recipe came in an email from The Food Network and is a Paula Deen recipe.  I highly recommend it!  I plan on making it again soon.

1 loaf French bread (13 – 16 oz) (I bought a fresh loaf of French bread in my local grocery store’s bakery which was really soft so I think the next time I make this I will either get the loaf of French bread the day before so that it is a little harder or else I’ll just go with a more firm kind of bread like brioche or whatever)

8 eggs

2 cups half and half

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

dash salt

Praline Topping (see below for recipe)

maple syrup

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1″ each.  Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 x 13″ baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping slices as necessary.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly.  (I used a whisk and the next time I make this I will whisk all the eggs together and then add all the other ingredients and whisk them into the eggs.  I had some egg yolks not get whisked together with everything else.)  Pour mixture over bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350.  Prepare Praline Topping.

2 sticks butter (I only used 1 and it was fine also the recipe doesn’t say so but you need to melt the butter)

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and blend well.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup.

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