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Heirloom French Toast Casserole with Southern Praline Pecan Topping

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 Some of the best recipes are ones that are passed down from generation to generation, from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, friend to friend and neighbor to neighbor! And this is one of those recipes that will surely continue to be passed around for generations to come! There are quite a lot of these types of recipes out there, for overnight french toast, but this is the one that my family makes and was given to me by Aunt Marlyn down in Villa Grove, Illinois! I’ve been making this for years, and it was always such a huge hit for company and a most-requested brunch item back when I was catering! 

 This time I used a thick-cut bread that actually said on the wrapper, “For French Toast”! Kind of a “Texas Toast” style of bread, but more eggy than white. A very thirsty bread that worked extremely well to drink up all of the sweet cream and spices overnight! 

 Here is a photo of it just before being tucked in for a good night’s sleep!

 

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After a restful night, it hits the snooze button and rests on the counter while the oven heats up and the most decadent praline pecan topping is prepared! It, too, is nicely spiced and cooked to just a boil, then poured over the top of the casserole just before baking…oh, yes, this is what dreams are made of! 

 This is the casserole just after coming out of the oven, still bubbling, and all warm, toasty and gooey! 

 

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 I was a wee bit nervous this time making it, because the bread was much thicker than what I normally have used in the past, as well as my pan being more shallow, and I was afraid it was going to simmer over. I put a sheet of foil on the rack below, but it made it through just fine! 

But you can sure see how close it came! Another 5 minutes and I’m sure it would’ve spilled over! So take precautions and go ahead and put a sheet of foil in there just in case! There’s nothing worse than sugar burning on the bottom of the oven!

 

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This is one sleepy casserole! It now has to take a short nap because the praline topping is extremely hot! Like molten LAVA hot! So always let it rest, relax and appreciate that breakfast or brunch doesn’t have to be rushed to the table before it turns cold like pancakes or scrambled eggs.  😉 

 

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 I know it’s hard to wait! I mean really! Just look at that praline topping!! But don’t touch it! Don’t do it. It’s very, very hot, and little ones should be kept from the table while it’s cooling so they aren’t temped to stick their little fingers in for a sneak taste! 

 

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 Then you just simply cut it and serve, slicing down the middle, then slice into serving-size pieces. It comes out easily and clean from the pan and never sticks. 

 This piece was cut just for photo’s sake, but my dear sweet hubby somehow managed to polish it off! He prefers his with melted butter on top, but I like mine just as is!

 

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My apologies for the awful photos! They truly do not do this casserole justice! I actually feel sorry for it! Though it doesn’t show, this is actually a very nice looking casserole and would probably have looked better had I added a little whipped cream on top. But it’s just so delicious just the way it is, that I really didn’t want anything on it. Just the heavenly, southern-style praline, warm spices and the rich, creamy bread! But you can top it with butter, sprinkle with a little powdered sugar, or top it with whipped cream if you’d like! 

 

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This recipe is very handy for guests spending the night or for busy holidays such as Christmas morning! It goes nicely with bacon, sausage or ham, and can also be served with simple scrambled eggs to a fancier cheese, asparagus and egg strata! And leftovers reheat beautifully in the microwave on medium for about 1 and a half minutes! If wanting to serve this for supper, simply prepare in the morning, and by evening the bread should be ready and the casserole can be finished and baked. A great time-saver for a busy weeknight! 

 We had this all by itself, though, since it’s just the two of us and it was plenty enough for a late morning breakfast!  Keep this one tucked away in a safe place, and one chilly upcoming weekend, surprise your family or friends with this rich and decadently delicious casserole! Hope you all enjoy and have a wonderful day!

 

 

HEIRLOOM FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE with SOUTHERN PRALINE PECAN TOPPING

Seres 8-10 (Less at our house!) 😉

 

1 (1 lb.) loaf french bread sliced 1″ thick, or “Texas Toast-style” bread, or “French Toast” bread

8 extra-large eggs

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbl. sugar

1 Tbl. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/8 tsp. kosher salt

 

Praline Pecan Topping:

1 cup (2 sticks butter)

1 cup packed dark brown sugar, can sub light brown

1 cup chopped pecans

2 Tbl. light corn syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

 

DIRECTIONS:

Slice the french bread into 20-1″ slices and arrange the slices in a generously buttered 13×9 (or larger) baking dish or pan, in 2 rows, overlapping slices. (*The “French Toast” loaf I used had 15 slices, plus the ends that I didn’t use. I cut the 15th slice in half, placed at each end under first whole slices, and they all fit perfectly.) 

In large bowl, beat eggs, whisk in rest of ingredients until well blended but not foamy.

Pour over the bread slices slowly and evenly making sure all of the slices are covered, spooning some in between the slices. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove from fridge, preheat oven to 350 degrees and make praline topping.

For Praline Pecan Topping: In saucepan, combine ingredients and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring. 

Carefully pour evenly over top of bread slices.

Bake casserole, uncovered, in bottom third of oven, for 35-40 minutes until puffed and golden. (Use foil underneath to catch spills if needed.)  Let rest at least 10-15 minutes before serving. Casserole will stay hot.  

 

 

 

 

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