I’m taking a break from cookie recipes to talk Christmas morning recipes, and what better to make on Christmas morning than this challah french toast bake?
When it comes to Christmas morning eats for me, it’s gotta be festive, easy, but also special. Something I wouldn’t normally make. This is when a french toast bake really saves the day. You whip everything up the night before then let it chill in the fridge overnight. Christmas morning, when everyone is opening their gifts, just pop it in the oven to bake.
If you’re not familiar with challah, let me introduce you. It is a traditional Jewish bread made with eggs, unlike normal bread. It’s braided, so it has a nice structure and a shiny crust. Challah is excellent for french toast because the structure of the bread is stronger. It soaks up french toast custard without getting soggy unlike other breads. It’s fantastic to use for regular french bread, too!
Now, you know me. I love citrus flavors so I’ve added some orange zest to this custard. But if you’re not a fan, you can omit it. But it really does add an awesome flavor to the bake, though. So you start with a good loaf of challah. Then you chop it into small pieces, throw them in a baking dish, and coat with the custard. Then, before you bake, you add a layer of brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. It’ll make your house smell so amazing on Christmas morning!
I hope you enjoy this recipe and that you are having a fantastic holiday season.
Challah French Toast Bake
Make ahead and bake while you open presents--this is the perfect Christmas morning breakfast.
- 11 cups chopped challah bread (about 1" cubes)
- 4 cups half and half
- 7 large eggs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup chopped raw pecans
- 1/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Lightly grease a 9"x11" baking dish. Arrange the bread cubes evenly in the dish.
In a large bowl, mix together half and half, eggs, vanilla extract, orange zest, and sugar. Mix well to make sure the eggs are incorporated. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes. If some are poking out and aren't soaking up the liquid, you can press them down a little so they can absorb the custard. Cover baking dish and place in the fridge for about eight hours.
In a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and set aside until you're ready to bake.
Before baking, preheat oven to 375 F. Remove dish from the fridge and coat french toast mixture evenly with the topping. Bake for 30-35 minutes until it is puffy and looks mostly set. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite syrup or even fresh berries. Enjoy!