Eat Like a Princess - Tiana - Baked Caramel French Toast

French toast is one of my favorite breakfast foods. My dad would make it when we were growing up. Basic white bread dipped in an egg and milk mixture. I usually add cinnamon now a days. After frying in butter you are gifted with a crisp yet custardy piece of toast. The saturation level of French toast is debatable, but I prefer my slices to have crispy edges with custard all the way through. I don't like it with a bready center.

My husband didn't grow up eating French toast and it always receives two thumbs up from him when I make it on the weekends. It is also a staple for our breakfast rotation for Mini Mouse. French toast is easy to customize and adjust for dietary needs, too. I've done mashed bananas in place of eggs and coconut milk in place of cow's milk. Top it with fruit, syrup, nutella or whatever you want!

One of the breakfast recipes in The Disney Princess Cookbook is Tiana's Baked Caramel French Toast and it sounded delicious to me. However, I have been scorned by a French toast casserole in the past. It ended up dry, overbaked, and a bit burnt to be honest. I was not about the let that happen with Tiana's recipe, though.

The recipe in the book calls for French bread. I avoided the really crusty French loaves when ingredient shopping (they are way better for other uses) and considered the soft French loaves at our local King Soopers but I was still nervous about the bread being too dry and hard. One of the most amazing French toast dishes I have tried was the Indulgent French Toast at Lamplight Lounge in Disney California Adventure. They use cinnamon-brown sugar challah bread to make the most pillowy and delicious French toast you can every imagine (not to mention the Irish whipped cream on the side). I decided to take a leap of faith and go with a different type of French bread and used brioche baguettes I found nearby. These were slightly sweeter and much softer without any significant crusty bits. It turned out to be a pretty excellent choice.

A 9x13 inch dish is recommended for building this dish, but I think 2.5 qts would result in a thicker slice and easier serving. Putting together this casserole the night before was pretty easy either way. Once the pan was greased I tore the baguettes into 1 inch chunk and scattered them around the pan then mixed the brown sugar, cinnamon, and pinch of salt, and sprinkled over the top. Whisking together the milk, eggs, and vanilla required a a medium to large bowl to ensure everything was well incorporated and sufficient air was added to the custard. Pour over top of the sugared bread and press down a little to help bread draw up the custard mixture. This dish does have to chill for at least 4 hours so it is is the perfect prep the night before breakfast.

Interestingly there isn't really any caramel in this French toast per se, it is more of a caramelized French toast as the brown sugar bakes over the custardy bread. I made a caramel sauce for some Mickey Waffles last weekend which was still in the fridge so I reheated it to serve over my finished product. I didn't hear any complaints at the breakfast table...

Baked Caramel French Toast

Prep Time 15 min + 4 hours, Cook Time 40-45 min
Serves 8

  • 10 ounce of Brioche, challah, or soft French bread; pulled apart in 1in pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • dash salt
  • 6 eggs, large
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Generously butter a 9x13 in casserole dish. Place the bread pieces in the dish.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the bread.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread. Then use a spatula to press the bread down to make sure it is well coated.
  4. Cover the baking pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  5. When you're ready to cook the French toast, heat the oven to 350 F. Bake the French toast with the foil in place for 20 mins. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 25 mins.
  6. Take the tray out of the oven and let cool for about 5 mins before serving. Drizzle with maple syrup or caramel sauce, dollop with whipped cream or sprinkle with powdered sugar or extra cinnamon.
I was really pleased with the result here! The brioche bread worked very well - spongy but sturdy. It puffed up gorgeously in the oven and allowed the tops of the bread to crisp while maintaining a perfect custard interior. Most of the credit goes to the ratio of eggs/milk to make the custard so all of the bread is coated and does not dry out in the oven. Flavor was delicious and texture was significantly better than any other version of this I have tried.

The only things I would change when making again would be to use a smaller dish to provide a better "slice" as once the casserole cooled it settled back down into the pan and lost height. I ended up spooning the casserole into bowls since it wouldn't slice at all due to being stuck to the bottom of the pan despite liberal buttering. Maybe spraying with butter flavored oil would release or easily... Those crisp bits were yummy though if you could get them off!

How do you make French toast at home? Comment below!


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