22 degrees, starry skies
Ric Flair Drip, Offset
I received a text message from my wife asking if I would be willing to help her cook breakfast for her staff for their early morning staff meeting. “Of course,” I quickly replied. “What do you have in mind?” She had polled her staff asking their favorite breakfast foods. Four of them had requested French toast. I ran through the logistics in my head of what it would look like to make slices of French toast for that many people by 7:30 in the morning in an office kitchen/break room. Although it certainly wouldn’t be as hard as a busy restaurant kitchen for Sunday brunch, a scenario I understand all too well, I knew there had to be a better way. Finally, I landed on overnight baked French toast, which can be assembled the night before, often used for occasions like Christmas morning.
I wanted to keep the flavor profiles simple and familiar, but I wanted it to be special somehow, too. I scoured recipes and decided to adapt one by Ree Drummond I found on Food Network. I was drawn to it because, just before baking, the entire pan of French toast is covered in a cinnamon crumble (which we also prepared and refrigerated the night before), that bakes up crispy and somewhat caramelized. I loved this idea, almost like French toast meets coffee cake. In reading the reviews, many people said her French toast was too sweet, especially once maple syrup joined the party. So, the first change I made was to reduce the sugar in the custard by half. I also omitted the fresh blueberries she recommends for serving. The final adaptation I made was to add a generous splash of bourbon to the mix. That bit is optional, but highly recommended, especially if you’re considering this one for Christmas morning. It was a huge hit.