For those of you following the blog, I wrote the other day that I served an artisan Italian bread with our wonderful seafood salad with green goddess dressing. We didn’t eat a lot of the bread that night for two reasons, first, the salad was so delicious and filling, and second, the bread was disappointing. But, my mother was a depression baby and taught us to never throw food out. There is always some way to use it. So, here’s to mom!
For the bread part:
- 1/2 loaf Italian bread (or bread of your choice), cut into 1/2″ sliced, then cut into halves or quarters
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 C 2% milk (you can use whole, half & half or even light cream)
- 2 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
Cut the bread, beat the eggs and all the liquid ingredients together, and push the bread into the egg mixture, making sure it is all coated. Turn every couple of minutes to make sure it soaks up nicely.
For the topping:
- 1/2 C brown sugar
- 2 oz. raisins
- 1/3 C walnuts, pecans, or almonds
- 1 Granny Smith apple, diced but peel left on
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Mix together all the ingredients except the melted butter, and make sure the nuts and apples are all coated, then add the melted butter and mix again.
Grease a 9″ x 9″ glass pan. Pour the bread and egg mixture into the pan and press down with the back of a spoon to make sure it is pretty evenly layered. Then carefully top with the apple, nut and brown sugar mixture.
Up to this point, this casserole can be made the night before, covered and refrigerated. Just be sure to bring the dish to room temperature, about 20 mins. before putting it into a preheated oven.
If making immediately, preheat the oven to 375. Cover the casserole with foil and place it into the oven for 35 minutes. Uncover it and return it to the oven for an additional 25 minutes. Check it with a cake tester, which should come out clean, to make sure the egg is fully cooked.
- This recipe can be made in reverse, with the nut mixture on the bottom and the bread on top, and then turned out onto a serving platter.
- If you want to double the recipe and make it in an 11 x 13″ pan, you probably don’t want to double everything, especially the eggs. I would start with 6 eggs and put the bread in. You can always beat an additional egg or two to the bread and egg mixture if there isn’t enough liquid. Also, you will need to extend the cooking time. I would recommend 45 minutes covered, and 25 minutes uncovered.
- For the bacon lovers out there- you’ll notice a nice bit of crunchy bacon on top of this casserole. Go back to my bacon, bacon, bacon recipe, but go ahead and put it in the 375 degree oven. Just watch it carefully. It took 21 minutes for my 4 slices to cook crispy enough to crumble but without burning.
- For the sweet lovers, skip the bacon and sprinkle some 10X sugar (Confectioner’s sugar) through a strainer in a light coating just before serving, to make a beautiful presentation.
Like most of my recipes, you can leave out or add ingredients as you choose-different kinds of bread (if you use a cinnamon raisin bread, just cut down on those ingredients), more or different varieties of apples, or add blueberries instead of raisins. I’m even contemplating adding a tablespoon or two of rum to my egg mixture next time, or maybe into the apple topping instead. Hmmm.
You can see the beautiful french toasted bottom and crunchy sweet/salty topping. Be creative and enjoy!!