"My most requested recipe! Overnight French toast flavored with a touch of orange liqueur that's baked casserole style on a bed of homemade caramel sauce."
Out of all the recipes I have ever made, this crunchy french toast recipe is the most requested one by far. It gets it’s name from having a crunch top (as you see in the photo – the tops of the bread are rich golden brown) and the insides have the traditional “softness” of french toast.
I used to bring this in for the rotating “breakfast club” at work, as it was the only thing that was simple to make and good enough to risk my reputation on. I’d make 3 full dishes of it and almost nothing would be left by the time lunch rolled around. By the end of the day, I’d have people begging me for a copy of the recipe.
And really, I can’t blame them – this is easily one of my top ten recipes, too.
Because not only is it easy to make, but it’s also an overnight french toast, which means it gets even better if the French bread is allowed to soak for about eight hours. And if you don’t have that kind of time, that’s okay, too – I’ve made this creme brulee french toast casserole from start to finish in a single morning and it still tasted wonderful.
Now, for me, “good” breakfast foods typically have the same characteristics: they’re easy to make and easy to clean up. And before I stumbled across this french toast casserole, that’s where my long term affair with French toast ran into trouble.
Making traditional French toast is a messy event, because inevitably you will get that egg mixture all over you, the counter, and those all those tricky places to clean on your stovetop. Traditional French toast also takes forever, because unless you own a two-foot frying pan you can only cook two (maybe three) slices of bread at a time.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m never satisfied with “just” two slices, so I usually end up going for four or six.. which, of course, means the first two slices are cold by the time my plate is full. Plus, this also means three times the messy counter, three times the boredom of waiting for the bread to brown, and three times the frustration of failed, falling-apart flips because of course I made too much egg mixture but don’t have nearly enough bread so I’m drenching every piece so not to waste it and it all become a heavy, soggy mess.
I just want to love you, french toast, but you make it so hard on me.
This is why I was absolutely elated when I discovered that you can bake french toast in a fully contained baking dish. That means no frying pan, no dripping bread, no sticky mess.
And when you add in the fact that you can make it the night before to be ready to pop in the oven first thing in the morning?
The only challenge you have left is to not miss the oven when you put the dish in to cook. Which, okay, may be tricky first thing in the morning, but don’t worry – I have complete faith in you.
The recipe is ridiculously easy and tastes just as good (if not better) than traditional french toast. I think this was one of the first dishes I made from scratch for anyone other than my immediate family, and certainly the only dish I’ve ever made for 10+ people.
However, as much as I love the simple taste of this recipe, I can’t take full credit for why it’s so darn good.
I think the majority of its success comes from my “secret” ingredient: Jimmy John’s day old french bread. It’s only $0.50 a loaf and when sliced into two inches, it makes perfect, individual sized portions in the casserole dish. I truly hope you have a location near you, because their sandwiches are amazing, and I think a big part of that is due to their delicious French bread. I typically get subs for dinner and pick up the day-old bread so we’ll have breakfast in the morning.
notes & tips for the overnight french toast:
- The instructions say to make this french toast casserole the night before (so that it can rest overnight), but really, you don’t have to do this. There have been plenty of times when I’ve made this creme brulee french toast from start to finish, with no resting, and it still turned out delicious.
- I highly recommend using Jimmy John’s French bread for this recipe (whether it’s fresh or day old), but if you don’t have a location near you, any French bread you can get your hands on will work just as well.
- For the orange liqueur, I’ve used both Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Both were delicious!
- If you like this recipe, be sure to check out this one for Classic Strawberry Stuffed French Toast!
This post was originally published on September 2nd, 2014. It was updated with new pictures and revised recipe instructions on June 8th, 2017.
Creme Brulee French Toast
My most requested recipe! Overnight French toast flavored with a touch of orange liqueur that's baked casserole style on a bed of homemade caramel sauce.
- 3 loaf Jimmy John's Day Old French Bread or other french bread of your choice
- 5 egg
- 1 1/2 cup half and half cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau
- 1/2 cup butter unsalted
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 2 tbsp corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar for garnish, optional
Cut the french bread of your choice so that it will sit about 2 inches high in a 9x13 baking dish. Set bread aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
- Remove caramel sauce from heat and immediately begin to pour in a 9x13 baking dish. Pour slowly so that bottom of baking dish is completely covered with caramel. See above video for example.
Arrange cut french bread in baking dish on top of the caramel. Bread should be tightly packed with minimal space in between.
Pour egg mixture over bread, saturating each piece as much as much as possible.
Cover baking dish and place in the refrigerator over night (ideally for at least 8 hours).
Set oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread is puffy and the top is golden brown.
Wait 5 minutes before serving. Add powdered sugar as desired (optional).
Recipe adapted from AllRecipes.