oven french toast

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OVEN FRENCH TOAST WITH BUTTER PECAN TOPPING
Serves 8

After my daughter was born four years ago, I began to make this dish when I still wanted to entertain but could not guarantee I’d have substantial time to be in the kitchen before my guests arrived. Hungry babies do not care if anyone else needs to eat. Enter oven French toast. The bread is soaked overnight and while the oven is preheats the topping is made. With some fresh fruit to balance the richness of the stick-bun like flavors, you’ve got an indulgent breakfast for company. If you, like Will Farrell’s character in the movie Elf, can’t get enough sweetness, pass maple syrup.

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1 24” long baguette
6 eggs
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Generously butter a 9” x 13” or similar size baking dish. Cut the baguette on the bias into about 12-14 pieces, discarding the ends. Arrange these pieces to fit snuggly in the baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, ½ cup of brown sugar, the cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla with a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture over the bread and press down so it begins to soak in. Cover the top of the pan with tin foil and weight the pan. (I usually use a smaller pan filled with canned goods.) Place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Take the pan from the refrigerator and remove the foil. Combine pecans, butter, the remaining ¼ cup brown sugar, the salt and the cream in a saucepan and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Evenly spoon this mixture over the soaked bread.
Bake until the bread is puffed and the nuts are brown, about 35-45 minutes. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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