Sweet Dish! Make-Ahead Peach Crumble Baked French Toast
When it comes to holiday cuisine, busy families know that easy, make-ahead, and, of course, kid-friendly dishes reign supreme. Our peach crumble baked French toast (made with whole-grain bread and frozen fruit) has all those bases covered: It takes a mere 15 minutes to prep, it’s even better when you let it sit overnight before cooking, and your kids will devour every last crumb (full recipe below). Cooked as a casserole, it’s also a great dish for feeding a festive crowd without having to spend hours standing at the stove. And that just means more time with all the ones you love!
Baked French toast is essentially torn bread cooked in a subtly spiced and sweetened custard. We like using wheat or multigrain French-style loaves to up the fiber and vitamin content. Dry, crusty bread is best because it can better soak up all the liquid—letting the unbaked casserole sit overnight in the fridge will help ensure every last bite is infused with deliciousness.
Note: The ideal dry bread for baked French toast is day-old, not stale (which can get leathery and lose its flavor). If you only have fresh bread, cut the loaf into slices, place on wire racks, and bake at 300 degrees for eight minutes on each side to dry it out.
Just like the casserole, the topping can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container or bag in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Not a fan of peaches? Swap them out for frozen blueberries or blackberries, chunks of apple, or slices of banana or pear. You can also add a handful of chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans to the mix for extra protein and crunch.
We think that with the peaches and crumble topping, this sweet breakfast casserole is delish all by itself—and our pint-size taste-testers heartily agree. But you can certainly serve it with warm maple syrup, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
In our centers, we embrace family-style eating—encouraging children to serve themselves teaches them important social skills (like passing items, sharing, being patient, and saying “please” and “thank you”) and how to listen to their own hunger cues. Allowing them to get in on the serving action can also inspire them to try new foods, like maybe a more “exotic” seasonal fruit (e.g., kiwi, papaya, and pomegranate seeds) to accompany the French toast.
If the casserole dish is still too hot when it’s time to eat, we suggest having an adult plate the individual portions but then let the kiddos dish up their own sides—sure, there will likely be some spills when children take the lead, but also lots of smiles. Bacon, sausage, hash brown egg nests, plain yogurt, and fresh fruit (oranges, pears, and apples are also in season) are all delicious additions to a hearty holiday brunch.
PEACH CRUMBLE BAKED FRENCH TOAST
Total time: 15 minutes prep/at least 2 hours to set/45 minutes–1 hour to bake
* Recipe adapted from the Pioneer Woman.
For the French toast:
- Butter, for greasing
- 1 French bread-style whole loaf of dry (not stale), crusty wheat or multigrain bread (not sliced sandwich bread)
- 8 eggs, at room temperature
- 2½ cups whole milk, at room temperature
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
For the crumble:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
- 4 cups frozen peaches (or any frozen fruit)
- Grease a 9x13 baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan.
- In a large bowl, add the eggs, milk, cream, sugars, cinnamon, and vanilla. Whisk everything until well combined, and then pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge for at least two hours, but ideally overnight.
- Make the crumble: In a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a fork to stir it all together. Add the butter and then use a pastry cutter (or two knives) to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store the topping in a sealed container in the fridge until needed.
- When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pan from the fridge and scatter the frozen peaches over the top. Sprinkle the crumble over the peaches.
- Bake for about 45 minutes to get a softer texture similar to bread pudding, or for 1 hour or more to get a firmer, crisper texture.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with the toppings and/or sides of your choice. Enjoy!