This recipe was originally going to be specifically an Apple Pie French Toast Bake, but I've now made it so many times with all different fruits and loved each one that it seemed like being too specific to apples didn't encourage the creativity that this recipe thrives on. The basis is a very straightforward French Toast Casserole, but when you add in some fruit and a crumble topping, it rides that line between a French Toast Bake and a Bread Pudding. Basically, it allows for a no-apologies decadent breakfast or an equally satisfying dessert. Syrup is absolutely not necessary, but if you're going for an over-the-top experience, then by all means, go for it.
choosing the right bread...
The biggest variable in this recipe's results is related to the bread you choose to use. I strongly encourage you to use a bread or bun that has some structure to it, not overly soft and fluffy (definitely not store-bought sliced sandwich bread) because it will turn to mush. Leftover, or a couple-of-days old bread works great. French bread or Italian loaves work well. My very favorite is sourdough because it adds such a great flavor and holds up really well in this recipe. I actually love using Sourdough Hot Dog Buns for this recipe!
let's talk about fruit...
This recipe is very forgiving as far as which fruits can be used, and you can absolutely skip the fruit altogether if your'e looking for a more classic French toast bake. Fresh or frozen blueberries work well. Diced apples are great too. Got rhubarb? Then by all means toss some rhubarb and strawberries in...bonus points for roasting the strawberries and rhubarb first. Such an amazing flavor. To roast the strawberries and rhubarb: Hull and quarter the strawberries, and slice the rhubarb. Arrange them on a lined baking sheet and give them just a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if desired. (I love the combination of strawberries and balsamic.) Roast at 375 for about 30 minutes until juices are thickened, but not scorched. Let cool and set aside while preparing the French Toast Bake. You'll notice that there are photos in this post of both the apple version and the roasted strawberry rhubarb version.
make it ahead...but not too far.
One of the best parts of Fruit Pie French Toast Bake is that it can (and must!) be prepared ahead of time. Once all the ingredients are tossed together, the mixture needs to refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours before baking. This allows the bread to absorb the liquid and the flavors to meld. I do not recommend letting it rest more than 8 hours though, as it can cause the bread to be soggy. 4-6 hours is best in my experience. I also recommend not chilling it in the baking pan you're planning to bake it in. I find that chilling it in a bowl and then transferring it to the baking pan when it's time to bake allows for the wet ingredients to redistribute prior to baking and helps prevent the top layer from being more dry than the bottom.Print
Fruit Pie French Toast Bake
Adding fresh (or frozen) fruit and a crumble topping really takes this French Toast Bake to another level. Makes for a wonderful brunch, or even a dessert! It's also a great way to use up some leftover bread. The fruit variations are endless, but my favorites are Apple, Blueberry, or Roasted Strawberry Rhubarb.
- Yield: 9x13-inch pan 1x
8 large eggs
2 ½ cups of Half & Half
½ cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
6-8 cups of cubed bread
2-3 cups of desired fruit, such as cubed apples, blueberries, or strawberries + rhubarb**
For the Crumble Topping-
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup (1 stick) softened butter
pinch of sea salt
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add fruit and bread, gently stirring until bread is coated. Cover and refrigerate 4-8 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
Transfer chilled bread mixture to the baking dish and arrange in an even layer, pressing down gently with a spatula to avoid large gaps between the bread pieces.
Bake uncovered, 35-40 minutes until top is lightly golden. Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and butter until a moist, crumbly mixture forms.
Remove baking pan from oven and arrange the crumble topping evenly over the French Toast Bake. Return to oven for an additional 8-10 minutes until topping has melted and browned slightly.
Let sit a few minutes before slicing. Serve warm.
** To roast strawberries and rhubarb: Hull and quarter the strawberries, and slice the rhubarb. Arrange them on a lined baking sheet and give them just a little drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if desired. (I love the combination of strawberries and balsamic.) Roast at 375 degrees F for about 30 minutes until juices are thickened, but not scorched. Let cool and set aside while preparing the French Toast Bake.
Keywords: apple pie french toast bake, french toast bake, crumble topping, roasted strawberry rhubarb french toast bake, bread pudding