Saturday, July 19, 2014

French Toast Bake (Random Style)

We are currently trying to empty out our basement freezer so we can defrost it. This has resulted in a plethora of "interesting" meals. The goal is to move everything from the basement freezer up to the regular freezer today. This may or may not result in us putting another turkey in the refrigerator even though we already have one thawing that we will be making tomorrow. It all depends on space available.

Today, we are using up 2 pints of frozen blueberries and a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. It's definitely one of my prouder meals in this whole process, although I have no idea if it will work as I wasn't even remotely prepared to make it. We've been having french toast every Saturday morning for a few weeks because there was a sale on Udi's Cinnamon Raisin bread about 6 months ago, and we bought A LOT. At $3.50 a loaf, it was hard to pass it up. The ends of the loaves don't work well for french toast, so we've been throwing them into a "discard" bag so that we don't have a million bags with only ends in them.

Last week, this bag became full enough to constitute an entire loaf, so I decided it was time to do something with it. I pondered making some sort of sweet croutons, but I wasn't sure what I would put them on. I knew I needed to do something where they were cut into pieces, and I knew the oven would probably be necessary. Beyond that, I wasn't sure.

I had pondered trying out a french toast bake (otherwise known as french toast casserole) because it seemed simple enough to try. I started without checking any recipes, and then thought twice and looked at a few recipes to get a general idea of how many eggs and other ingredients I should use.

I wound up using the following:
1 loaf of bread (all ends--some people call them the heel or crust pieces)
8 eggs
Coconut milk (I just sort of poured)

I broke the bread into bite size pieces and tossed it into a 9x9 glass pan that I had sprayed with olive oil. I then beat the eggs and coconut milk and poured it over the top. Some of the pieces seemed really dry, so I tried to mix everything around but it wasn't an easy process because the pan was very full.

I decided to let it sit for a little while while I worked on the topping. The topping included:
1/2 cup gluten-free flour
Light brown sugar that I eyeballed at about 1/2 cup
Gluten/Dairy/Soy Free butter that I eye balled at a few tablespoons
Nutmeg--I just kinda shook a bunch on. Maybe 3/4 teaspoon.
Cinnamon--I just kinda shook that on too--probably also about 3/4 teaspoon

I mixed all of the topping ingredients together, and then put it in a baggie so I could mash everything together to ensure the butter was mixed thoroughly. Then I put it back in the bowl and mixed it with a fork so that it was crumbly.

I still wasn't happy with the pan I was using, so I took out a 9x13 pan and sprayed that with olive oil. I then dumped the contents of the original pan into the 9x13 pan. I then scowled at myself for the amount of dishes I was using/wasting because I would need to clean more. At least my experiment had a better chance of working.

I then took about two pints of frozen blueberries we picked last year and poured that over the top, and then sprinkled the topping on and threw it in the oven at 350 degrees. I had no idea how long to bake it, so I set the timer at 30 minutes, and came to my computer to check what the recipes I had looked at suggested. It seemed most thought 45-60 minutes was best depending on how "wet" you wanted the final product.

The timer just went off for the 30 minutes, and our kitchen smells AMAZING. My husband has no idea what I'm working on, so I had him walk into the kitchen, take a deep breath through his nose, and then walk back out. He thinks I'm baking cookies.

I also took a quick picture and wished I had taken pictures throughout the process:
French Toast Bake in Oven (pardon our dirty oven)

(Fast forward an hour)
It ended up taking one hour to bake. The finished product was great. It definitely tasted more like a dessert than a breakfast, but I'm good with that occasionally.

Here are two photos of the finished product:
French Toast Bake finished product. 

French Toast Bake plated. 
I feel like there are a million things I could have done better, but I'm happy with what I got. It definitely could have looked prettier, and an actual recipe may have perfected the taste, but I don't think it's too bad for randomly coming up with it.

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