Baked french toast is one of the best breakfast dishes of all time. All the deliciousness of french toast and bread pudding combined, then soaked in a baked up until puffy with flavor and goodness. Typically you make it the night before and bake it off in the morning. Great for a fast and amazing breakfast, but it requires enough aforethought to prep the night before.
This foodie experiment was instigated by an overabundance of bagels. A few days old and slightly dry, old bagels are the perfect consistency for baked french toast. So rather than leaving them whole and soaking overnight, here you dice them up for a speedy 10-minute version of the classic overnight soak. Procrastinators, celebrate!
Now we happened to be sitting on some of my favorite - cinnamon crunch bagels. Yum. But you can use any type you have on hand. Plain, strawberry, cinnamon raisin and poppyseed are all excellent as well. Heck, you could use an onion bagel if cinnamon and onions do it for you. Just be sure that they're a few days old and a bit dried out. That part is essential.
Chopping the bagels is what makes this a morning-of dish. By using small pieces with greater surface area, they become saturated with the milk and egg more quickly. Like I said, this is a dish for the procrastinators out there. I almost feel like I'm cheating by getting all the flavor without all the soak time. (Man, it feels good to be a cheater...at least in this case.)
A huge bonus about this dish in our two human household is that you make it however big or small as you choose. If you want to feed a family of eight or make a batch to heat up throughout the week, use more bagels and a bigger pan. If you're just looking for a yummy breakfast for two on a Saturday morning, use a bread pan or two small baking dishes for individual servings. I love using my wee little Le Creuset dishes for these types of things.
Now if you're a french toast traditionalist and already reeling from the idea of using bagels, I must first thank you for reading this far! Secondly, feel free to leave your eggy bread be and top with with maple syrup. We very, very often make this dish without fruit and substitute a brown sugar and nut topping. You get an excellent crusty surface on the french toast that way. But for those of you were were drawn not only by the name of the dish but also the vibrant fruit pictured, let me speak of the limitless possibilities of this breakfast.
(One is mine and one is the hubs....guess who!)
Here I present to you fresh sliced peaches with with chopped hazelnuts. The peaches soften and release their juice while the nuts toast up to roasted perfection. A little drizzle of agave nectar and you are in heaven. But you can top this dish with any fruit and nut you like. Fresh berries and walnuts is another favorite in our household. You could even use dried fruit or coconut flakes. Just play around with what you prefer and give it a go. But peaches and hazelnuts are awesome.
Another bonus of mini dishes - no need for plates. Just dive right into that fruity, nutty and eggy bagel goodness and enjoy.
Baked Bagel French Toast (serves 2)
- 2 bagels, slightly stale
- 2 eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 1 c milk (we use fat free, but your preference)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- dash salt
- 2 peaches
- 2 tbs chopped hazelnuts or praline topping (recipe below)
Begin by chopping your bagels into small cubes about an inch in size (no need to be uniform here, folks). In a medium bowl, add the eggs and egg whites and beat lightly. Add the milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt, then whisk together to combine. (If you want a little sweeter toast, you could add a tablespoon of sugar at this time, too.)
Grease your baking dish and fill with bagel cubes. Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bagels and set aside. Let soak for 10-15 minutes until most of the mixture is absorbed.
While bagels are soaking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice your peaches. When the bagels are ready to bake, top with the peaches, hazelnuts or praline topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bread has puffed up and is slightly golden where exposed. Serve with maple syrup or agave nectar.
Easy (and Healthy!) Praline Topping
- 2 tbs Smart Balance Light
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- dash or two of nutmeg
- 2 tbs nuts (walnuts and hazelnuts are popular here)
Combine the smart balance, brown sugar and spices in a bowl. Mix together well. Chop the nuts and mix into the butter mixture. Spread over the top of the bagel french toast just before baking.