As I have mentioned before, I do not cook many big breakfasts. I just like to be able to eat immediately after waking up- I am usually too hungry and too impatient to prepare and cook anything too fancy for breakfast. However, this french toast bake can be prepared the night before and then all you have to do is pop it in the oven when you wake up in the morning. The aroma of the pumpkin and spices smells identical to that of a pumpkin pie- it’s the perfect warm breakfast for a cool autumn morning.
1/2 loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch bread cubes (or about 4 cups crusty bread, cut into bite-size pieces)
8 large eggs
1 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping
nuts, like pecan or walnuts (optional)
Spray a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and place bread cubes in dish- you want enough bread to fill the dish almost completely full.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, syrup, 1 Tablespoon brown sugar and pumpkin puree until well combined. Pour over bread and mix with the bread (I used my hands, but you could use a large spoon) until all the bread is mostly covered. Cover with plastic cling wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight (if you wanted to, you could also bake it at this time instead of letting it sit overnight).
In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees, uncover and top with brown sugar and nuts (optional). Bake for 35-45 minutes or golden brown and no longer wet.
Serve immediately with maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Store leftovers in the refrigerator covered for up to a couple days.