This week I found myself with an overabundance of bread. I know, first world problems, right? I still had half a loaf of the marvelous candied pecan and cranberry bread when one night my lovely neighbor knocked on my door and presented me with a loaf of fresh San Francisco sourdough bread, flown in that day by her son.
Lord have mercy. What did I do to deserve such a wonderful neighbor?
And so, having eaten half of the candied pecan and cranberry bread, and half of this loaf, I found myself needing to use my bread up. Day old bread is perfect for french toast, and I’m a huge fan of make-ahead dishes, so I hit the web for inspiration, and landed on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for “cinnamon baked french toast“. Since half of my available bread already had pecans and cranberries, and the Pioneer Woman suggested adding fruit and pecans, I decided to go all the way and add even more cranberries and pecans. I love the tangy sweetness of the cranberries, the crunch of toasted pecans, and the warm soft pillowy bread. This is an amazing make-ahead dish that is perfect for the holidays. Serve warm with syrup and butter, and try not to fight over who gets the last piece.
- 1 loaf stale or day-old sourdough or french bread
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¾ cup white sugar
- 2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup dried sweetened cranberries
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ½ cup lightly salted butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- dash grated nutmeg
- ⅔ cup chopped, toasted pecans (save for last)
- Spray a 9x13 glass dish with non-stick spray. Break bread into about 1-inch pieces and spread evenly in dish.
- In a large bowl, combine your eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk or beat thoroughly until well combined. Pour over the bread. It will come up to about the halfway mark in the dish.
- Cover and refrigerate a few hours, or overnight.
- After its good long soak, remove from refrigerator and sprinkle ¾ cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins) over the top.
- Now, add the crumb topping. You can make the topping now, or even the night before - just keep it refrigerated until you're ready to add it.
- Combine all crumb topping ingredients except pecans in a medium bowl and use a pastry cutter to combine until the mixture looks like coarse sand. Spread lightly over french toast mixture, and then sprinkle with toasted pecans. Always toast your nuts! It brings out such wonderful flavors and textures. You'll be missing out if you skip this step.
- Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your preference of done-ness. I pulled the trigger at 53 minutes.
Serve it warm, don’t be afraid to add butter and syrup. Look at that gorgeous, moist interior with that delicious crumb topping.