Save some eggnog for breakfast; it works in French toast, too

In our home, overnight French toast is the winning dish, especially when there's eggnog left over from earlier festivities. / Dolgachov/Dreamstime/TNS
In our home, overnight French toast is the winning dish, especially when there's eggnog left over from earlier festivities. / Dolgachov/Dreamstime/TNS

At some point during the holidays, regardless of your religious or family traditions, a lovely breakfast will be added to the already busy schedule.

Because there's plenty to do in the kitchen this time of year, I have no delusions about setting a fancy table early in the morning. But I do believe it's worth giving this meal some thought a day or two before.

In our home, overnight French toast is the winning dish, especially when there's eggnog left over from earlier festivities. Making this one-pan dish sure beats standing over the stove, cooking slice after slice of French toast or ladling pancake batter onto the griddle. It is easily scaled up to feed a crowd with very little effort, as all of the servings bake simultaneously.

Everything can be assembled the night before, so all you need to do when you wake up is pop it in the oven. It will fill the house with a warm, toasty scent as it rises into an impressive golden puff. This is the sort of breakfast dish that will wait happily for late risers; it can be kept warm and stay in prime condition.

This recipe dispatches any sort of stale loaf — the panettone, challah, brioche, a few croissants, a day-old baguette, even dried cake — forgotten among all the holiday goodies. Eggnog, whether it's made from scratch or poured from a carton, makes easy work of this dish. Serve the slices topped with speedy cranberry-kumquat preserves that can also be made ahead.

After all the holiday hubbub, the simplicity of this timeless breakfast casserole is dependably luxurious and comforting.


Eggnog French Toast Loaf

Serves 4 to 6.

2 eggs

1 cup granulated sugar (see note)

1 cup heavy cream (see note)

4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Generous pinch coarse salt

About 16 ounces bread (1 loaf or mix of holiday breads), cut into 2-inch-thick slices

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Cranberry-Kumquat Preserves (see recipe)

Note: If using prepared eggnog, replace the sugar and cream with 1 1/2 cups of eggnog.

Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, cream, butter, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Add the bread slices to the bowl, and allow to soak for a few minutes. Arrange the soaked slices in the loaf pan, and pour any of the egg mixture left in the bottom over the bread. Dust the top with a little nutmeg, and cover with a slice of parchment paper. Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the parchment paper covering the loaf, and set loaf pan onto a baking sheet. Bake until the loaf is deeply golden brown on top and the custard has set, about 1 hour. Remove and serve from the pan in slices dusted with powdered sugar and Cranberry-Kumquat Preserves on the side.


Cranberry-Kumquat Preserves

Makes 1 cup.

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/2 cup kumquat, sliced

1/4 cup honey

Put the cranberries, kumquats and honey into a small saucepan. Set over low heat, cover, and cook just until the cranberries have opened, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to be sure they are not sticking to the bottom. Remove, allow to cool to room temperature before transferring to covered container to store in the refrigerator.


Beth Dooley is the author of "The Perennial Kitchen." Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.

Upcoming Events