Raise your hand if you love brunch! And there are so many things to love about brunch… savory egg dishes, sweet baked goods, fried or roasted potatoes, and mimosas. Can’t forget mimosas.
My mom relinquished holiday-hosting duties the year Chris and I bought our first house. I already loved to cook, so I thought it would be easy to host. I picked out all the recipes I wanted to try, and imagined all the delicious food we would eat. I went overboard, declined help from others, and quickly realized how stressful hosting can be. Trying to make all those dishes from scratch left me completely frazzled. I would be stressed and exhausted before the party even started! My advice is to simplify your menu and make as much as you can ahead of time. One dish that fits the bill is this Croissant French Toast Casserole.
This make-ahead casserole is a delicious and easy way to serve breakfast to a group. I made it for brunch on both Christmas morning and New Year’s Day. I love that you can mix everything together the night before and just pop it in the oven the next morning.
For Christmas, we served it alongside baked ham, smoked salmon, frittata, and a citrus salad. For New Year’s, we went a bit simpler (read: hangover-friendly) with oven bacon and scrambled eggs. Whether you make it for a special brunch or a typical weekend breakfast, it is a crowd-pleaser.
My secret ingredient is orange zest. It adds a lovely flavor, and takes advantage of the in-season citrus.
Croissant French Toast Casserole
Makes 12 servings
24oz croissants (about 8)
1 1/3C heavy cream
1 2/3C milk (skim is fine)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3C packed brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1/3C packed brown sugar
8 tbsp (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tsp cinnamon
Optional Additional Toppings
Maple syrup, or pancake syrup
1. The day before serving: Preheat oven to 275ºF. Cut croissants into 1 inch cubes. Spread croissant cubes in one layer on a half sheet baking pan. Put in oven for about 40 minutes to dry, stirring after 20 minutes. Cubes should feel dry to the touch, but not look browned. Place dried cubes in a 9×13 baking dish.
Tip: Drying the bread allows it to soak up more of the egg custard mixture.
2. While the bread is drying, whisk together cream, milk, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, 2/3 cup brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Pour over dried bread cubes in 9×13 baking dish. Cover and store in the fridge overnight.
3. Make the topping: Mix together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut butter into flour mixture using a pastry cutter, two forks, or a food processor. Store in the fridge in a container or plastic bag overnight.
4. The morning of serving: Remove the baking dish from the fridge and top the casserole with the prepared topping. Preheat the oven to 350ºF, and bake for 1 hour. Serve immediately, topping with additional toppings if desired. Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Recipe can be cut in half and baked in an 8×8 baking dish. Reduce cooking time to 45 minutes.