‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except whoever hasn’t wrapped their presents yet. Someone already breaking into the eggnog. Someone on the phone with FedEx because the ergonomic socks they ordered never arrived. Mom, freaking out. Dad, freaking out. Kids bouncing off the walls tracking Santa on some bogus website sponsored by Big Candy. NO ONE IS SNUG. IT IS CHAOS.
Except your overnight French toast, all comfy in the biggest casserole pan you own, covered in custard, waiting patiently to be unwrapped for breakfast the next morning. Take a photo with it in your jammies, send it to @mollybaz and say, “Thanks for the overnight French toast, I’m going to wear it all day! It fits perfectly! I love it!”
This recipe is your holiday feeding-a-boatload breakfast solution, all of the prep takes place the night before serving, and that prep is: slicing and toasting bread, mixing some eggs with milk and cinnamon, and assembling a shingled masterpiece, and shoving it in the fridge. The day of, you pour some butter on top and bake. And hey, it works for all kinds of crowds, not just Hallmark movie family unit clichés. I made it recently for two of the people I will spend Christmas with: my boyfriend and my great aunt. We ate ALL OF IT. The recipe feeds six. IT WAS SAVAGE.
A few details guarantee a French toast better than most:
The bread: Use challah or brioche. Those eggy breads will soak up the custard like a sponge. However, you MUST toast the bread (in the oven) first so that when it gets covered in liquid it keeps its shape and doesn’t get soggy and gross. So yes, you need to turn the oven on, but maybe it was already on for some cookies or something?
Triple dairy threat: The custard is a ton of eggs, plus a combo of whole milk and heavy cream, because it’s CHRISTMAS, COME ON. The third dairy is a dollop of crème fraîche on every serving, the metaphorical tiny present you find under the tree after all the presents have been opened—and inside the ring box is a dollop of crème fraîche.
That’s pretty much it, honestly. You smush the bread under the custard with a spatula, then soak it all overnight (make room in the fridge! This can also just be for two hours!), cover with melted butter and coarse sugar in the morning, and bake it for half an hour until puffy, golden, and crispy around the edges. The pieces on the bottom of my casserole were pudding-like and gooey good, the pieces on top were crispier like cinnamon toast. A bite that combines both is sensational. Now let’s get to the presents.
Get the recipe: