If this weekend comfort food doesn’t provide any consolation from a long week, then I don’t know what will.
Can we just stop and stare for a minute?
I’m not one to initiate a stare but look at those crispy edges. And the clusters of caramelized crunchy goodness. And the specks of orange zest. YASSS. Wait until we slice… there’s an irresistible blend of citrus swirling around with vanilla and honey flavors, all infused into the most decadent custardy french toast under a golden brown exterior.
Heavenly. Just heavenly.
The make-ahead part may be the best part of it. Okay, maybe not, who are we kidding? It’s definitely the french toast. But preparing this a day ahead is a wonderful weekend perk for sure. 🙂
If you happen to be looking for Easter breakfast/brunch ideas, this overnight orange honey vanilla baked french toast is not only delicious but easy to make ahead, and a crowd pleaser.
Psst! You can also bake-then-freeze this way before the holiday if you need the oven space for other baking. Thaw in the fridge the day before, bake the morning of …none the wiser. Whether for a holiday or chilling out in PJ’s, the weekend can only get better with this.
What’s also nice about this recipe is you can bake it a bit longer for more of a bread texture or less to make it more custardy (like here) to your taste. It kinda tastes like an orange flan with a generous helping of orange zest, infused with vanilla and all its’ speckled glory …
With bread, of course, and lots of cinnamon infused texture. You need to make this soon.
Serve this to your gluten and dairy loving family/friends, I dare you. I’m telling you, rock star status is all you. They (or you) will not miss the gluten and dairy (or soy) one bit. Scouts honor.
The serving size may seem too big for two or three, consider Monday morning leftovers – just as moist and intense in flavor – or freeze for another day. If you must, halve the recipe, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil (I use avocado oil)
- 2 tablespoons pure honey
- zest of 2 large navel oranges, (about 2 tablespoons)
- juice of 1 orange (scant ¼ cup)
- 1¾ cup coconut milk (not canned)
- 1½ teaspoon orange extract
- ½ vanilla bean (scraped out of the center for seeds, store bean in sugar for vanilla flavored sugar) or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- dash of grated nutmeg
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1½ loaves gluten, dairy, soy free bread (I use Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread)
- avocado oil for greasing
- For topping:
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, softened
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or light brown sugar)
- 5 tablespoons organic white rice flour
- 1 teaspoon pure honey
- additional teaspoon grated orange zest
- maple syrup
- powdered sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 C).
- Grease a 9-inch round baking casserole dish at least 2-inches deep or a 9 X 9-inch rectangular pan at least 1½ inches deep.
- Crack eggs into a medium bowl, whisk to combine then add sugar, oil, honey, orange zest, orange juice, coconut milk, orange extract, vanilla,
nutmegand cinnamon; whisk to combine well.
- Working in batches, stack up about ½ a loaf and using a serrated knife cut of crust ends bread, then cut into fourths. Don't discard the ends, use for breadcrumbs at another time. Trimming a stack of 4-5 bread slices will speed up the process. When all the bread has been cut, transfer into the greased baking dish. It will form 2-3 layers of bread cubes. Pour the egg-sugar mixture over the bread pieces and press bread down into the wet mixture for about a minute. The liquid egg mixture will only come up halfway, exposing the top layer of bread cubes, with orange zest sticking onto the bread. Compress the topping ingredients to form clusters, then distribute across the french toast. Cover, first with parchment paper and then aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
- When ready, bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake another 30 minutes.
- Take a peek after 25 minutes to check for doneness, as oven temperatures and elevation vary.Test for doneness with a skewer or knife, it is ready when it comes out with a wet crumb and the french toast feels somewhat firm to the touch.
- Optional: add about a teaspoon of orange zest evenly across the french toast. Let it cool for 20 minutes before slicing so the liquids can redistribute. Serve with maple syrup and/or confectioner (powdered) sugar. It has a good amount of sweetness already so you may want to taste first and add to your liking.
- Note: I find wrapping with both, parchment paper and aluminum, helps trap more steam than the conventional way with just aluminum foil, resulting in a french toast bake that is always moist even when it continues to bake uncovered.
- Notes on making ahead:
- This recipe is very adaptable; it can be baked ahead up to 2 days in advance, cooled completely then covered and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat in a preheated 300 degrees F or 148 C for 20-30 minutes until nearly hot. Serve immediately.
- For make ahead freezer alternative: prepare then bake as noted in the recipe. Cool completely (to avoid freezer burn) then cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil, then seal with plastic wrap three-ply and freeze or use jumbo sized freezer bags to seal the baking dish. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Then reheat in a preheated 300 degrees F (148 C) oven for 30-40 minutes or until hot in the center.
- For a boozy alternative: add a few splashes of Cointreau or Grand Marnier to the egg mixture, both gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.
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