I missed out on a Mother’s Day breakfast in bed this year because I was with my daughter, Abby and husband, Michael in Washington for a high school girls basketball tournament. It’s an odd way to celebrate mothers, but then again, without a mother’s guidance, support and vote of confidence, athletic girls might not truly discover their potential. As a mother, I love watching my children excel in sports, especially my two girls. (I’m just the proud mother, you know.)
Our oldest daughter, Meredith, excelled at soccer, completing her career at Boise State University as a defender for the Broncos. And now eleven years later, we get to watch Abigail excel in basketball. The athletic opportunities for girls today far exceed what was available in my day and for that I am grateful. Sports reinforce great attributes of character that we are trying to teach at home like hard work, patience, perseverance, team work and commitment. Mothering (and parenting) is hard, but with talented coaches and parents around to help, it makes my job much easier.
Back to my missed Mother’s Day breakfast in bed. In my fantasy world, I dream of this scrumptious dish with it’s layers of brown sugar and butter, baked in an egg custard and topped with a crunchy cinnamon crumb topping. It combines my favorite breakfast food: french toast with America’s favorite pastry: cinnamon rolls into one lovely baked casserole dish that is half the effort of either of the two and which can be easily prepped ahead. I like to add fresh strawberries, coconut Greek yogurt (not pictured here) and pure natural maple syrup. Yum, Yum.
The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs: Oh Sweet Basil. I’ve altered the original by using whole wheat french bread, half the egg yolks, fat-free half and half and substituted a cinnamon crumb topping.
- Cinnamon French Toast Bake
- Cooking Spray
- 1 loaf whole wheat french bread, torn into large pieces
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp butter, melted
- 2 Tbsp water
- 2 1/2 cups fat-free half and half
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 pinch grated fresh nutmeg (optional)
- 1/3 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
- Coconut Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)
- Sliced fresh strawberries
- Pure maple syrup
- Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Combine brown sugar, melted butter and water in a small bowl.
- Lay half of the bread on the bottom of the baking dish. Drizzle with half of the brown sugar mixture. Repeat layers with remaining bread and brown sugar mixture.
- Combine fat-free half and half, eggs, egg whites, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Pour evenly over layers of bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour (overnight if possible).
- For the Cinnamon Crumb Topping: Combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg if desired. Add butter pieces and cut them into the dry mixture (using a pastry cutter) until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the casserole and crumble topping from the refrigerator. Sprinkle topping over the casserole.
- Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- Scoop out individual portions. Top with coconut Greek yogurt, strawberries and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.
Add at least one hour (or overnight) for casserole to chill in the refrigerator.
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