Like most of you, I plan on being up late tonight. For a number of years now, we have gotten together with the same couples and spend the night eating, drinking and playing games. Several years ago we started a tradition of playing the dominos Mexican train game. One year, after the traditional countdown and champagne toast, we returned to our game and decided that we wouldn’t end the night until everyone had one. Two hours later, five of us were actively cheating to allow the sixth to win. Maggie sent me this one and I knew it would be great for today as you can make it before your party and when you wake up on New Years Day, put it into the oven. Here’s Maggie with the recipe….
I was in search of a breakfast casserole that would be easy and feed a lot of people. So I went to Pinterest and decided to give this one a shot. I tweaked it a bit, using just cinnamon instead of pumpkin pie spice (I believe I’ve shared my thoughts on clove and nutmeg in pumpkin pie before… still a cinnamon-only purist!) and increased the pumpkin butter a bit to make sure we could actually taste the pumpkin. With all the other ingredients I was worried it would become overpowered. I think that using a dense bread is important for this recipe, so find some hearty bread, and stale is good! I used Pepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Swirl bread, and left it in the garage for a couple of days before preparing this dish. It was perfect. This is a good “assemble the night before” casserole. I got up, popped this in the oven, and by the time I made coffee, set the table, and warmed the syrup, it was almost ready. This is a keeper- I will make it again. Thumbs up from all the kids and grown ups!
Pumpkin French Toast Breakfast Bake
What you need:
5 cups (approximately) of bread cut into 1” cubes
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
1/2 cup pumpkin butter (or ½ pumpkin puree mixed with 3 Tb brown sugar)
3-4 Tbs brown sugar for toping before baking
nuts (pecans or walnuts- optional)
What you do:
Cut the bread into 1” cubes- use a heavy, dense bread if you can (I found Pumpkin Spice Swirl made by Pepperidge Farms and it was great!) but regular old bread will work too- you’ll just need more to soak up the liquid. Use enough to fill a greased 9×13” baking dish. Fill it almost to overflowing with bread cubes.
In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin butter and spices until well blended. Pour this over the bread and smoosh it down with the back of a spoon, or your super-clean hands until the bread soaks up all the egg mixture and you can tell it is all well coated or covered with the liquid. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, sprinkle the top with brown sugar, and if you wish, some chopped nuts. If you want to mix a little pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon in the brown sugar, that is good too! Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until golden brown and the eggs are set. It should not look wet. Serve immediately with maple syrup or honey.