French Toast Breakfast Bake
I was struck this week with yet another reminder of how short life is. Some so unfairly shorter than others.
After watching the video of the girl who’s father was dying, and how she staged her first dancefor her wedding to video so she could play it forher actual wedding (groom unknown) my make-up was totally trashed. (Check it out but grab the tissues.) Little did I know that the same day that I would learn that a sweet friend’s long battle with cancer had become much more challenging. It was a punch to the heart, a flood of emotions from the past several months rushed in. Not to jump the gun with a prognosis for my friend because if anyone can beat cancer, it would be her… but the rally cry for meals for the family is an all-knowing signal that things are bad.
And we know bad.
During the past several months, we have experienced the passing of my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and father-in-law. It was in midst of those difficult times that we were the recipients of oh so many meals. “Meals to the family” – such a time-honored tradition, just hearing the words evokes emotion whether you’re the giver or the taker.
Those donated meals that were so touching to us, the kindness that sustained us. There were days when it seemed as if the neighbors were laying in wait for us to peek open from the front door. Every time we emerged for air, there was a pretty plate extended to us with a hug and a warm smile. Even though we may not have been able to fully articulate how grateful we truly were, I can attest that a pile of homemade chocolate chip cookies at the ready – for breakfast if I wanted it – was high on my list of ways to numbly deal with everything that I had lost control of. Those rays of kindness from family and friends were the pleasant highlights during the long dark days of a loved one’s passing. To think that someone went to the effort of making US a complete meal of smothered quail and vegetable sides was mind-boggling to me. The special delivery of my favorite pizza, meat pies, crawfish etouffee (the best I’ve ever had), and homemade coconut pie were gastrointestinal favors I still dream about. And I’m sure the gentleman who showed up with 2 cases of bottled water will never fully understand how appreciative I was.
Think about that. Water.
I was thrilled for something as insignificant as water. A small gesture on his part, sent me into a puddle of tears. It was his way of nodding our way, saying, “I know what you’re going through. Let me help in a little way.”
The kindness of others is what buoys us in times of celebration and in need. We’re all only on this earth for so long, let’s be a bit more accepting, check the hostilities and jealousy at the door, extend kindness and support to the people we care about, and keep paying it forward for friends and strangers alike.
In the spirit of caring, I’ll be making this recipe for a Make Ahead French Toast Breakfast Bake for my sweet friend’s family on Friday. It’s our family favorite that is not only delicious, it’s super easy to make. Good thing, because once you make this, you’ll get requests for more. (I’ll actually be making 3 on Friday!) I’ll wager any bet that there’s a new neighbor down your street that would love to see a friendly face bearing a pan of this, or the brand new mom struggling with how to keep her home and life spinning would appreciate this as a warm meal in the morning, and the family who is coping with an extended illness will find comfort in the gesture. If you think hard enough, I’m sure there’s someone in your world that could use a little pick-me-up whether it’s food or something as simple as bottled water. You’ll both be happy for it.
Make Ahead French Toast Breakfast Bake
What you need:
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 cup packed brown sugar (I interchange light and dark)
- 1 loaf of Texas Toast (This is an extra thick sliced white bread. I wouldn’t recommend using whimpy whole wheat bread. You could maybe use two slices of Bunny Bread or something with a high squish factor to replace each slice of Texas Toast)
- 4 eggs
- 1-1/2 cup whole milk (You’ve already accepted that lack of nutritional value of the Texas Toast, PLEASE resist temptation to use skim or low fat milk here. Go for the whole milk. This recipe is a comforting treat, not your new diet.)
- 1 Tablespoon and then some vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons + of brown sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ++ of cinnamon (I use extra cinnamon because we love cinnamon.)
- Powdered sugar for a dusting on top
- Real Maple Syrup (not a deal breaker, but when I make this to give, I buy the real thing and include a bottle with the prepared French Toast Bake ready for baking.)
- 13 x 9 greased pan – I generally double this, so I make one for us in a glass pan and another in a disposable aluminum pan.
What you do:
1) Melt the butter either on the stove or in the microwave. If in the microwave, use 10 – 15 second intervals, stirring in-between, so it doesn’t explode
2) Take off the stove and stir in the cup of brown sugar until well combined.
3) Pour the butter/brown sugar mixture into the bottom of your pan and cover evenly
4) Beat by hand or with a hand-mixer the eggs, milk and vanilla. Leave it in the bowl while you do the next step.
5) Lay a single layer of the Texas Toast in your pan. You want to cover the bottom. It’s okay to cut some of the Texas Toast to fit to the edges.
6) Spoon 1 cup of the egg mix over the Texas Toast.
7) Sprinkle half of the brown sugar cinnamon over the top evenly
8) Repeat steps 5 – 7.
That’s it for now. Cover the pans (if you’re making two) tightly with aluminum foil and then Press N Seal. It needs to chill overnight in your refrigerator. As I said, I make one for me and one to give usually, so I write the baking instructions on top of the Press N Seal:
Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Then uncover and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Pour maple syrup on top.
Remember to include a baggie or shaker or powdered sugar for your recipient if you’re making this to give.
There are lots of versions of this on the internet. My recipe is adapted from Chew Out Loud