A lovely mash-up of French toast and apple pie, this prep-ahead baked apple french toast, recipe courtesy of Once Upon a Chef, has all the makings of a special holiday brunch dish – the kind that becomes a much-loved family tradition. You can assemble and bake it straight away or prepare it the evening before, let it sit in the fridge overnight, and then pop it in the oven in the morning when you’re ready to eat.
To spice it up, you can add a little bourbon to the custard mixture for depth of flavor or you can substitute the bourbon with apple cider or more half & half, if you prefer. Serve the baked apple French toast with a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup, and bacon on the side.
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
For the French toast
- One 1-pound challah or raisin challah
- 5 large eggs
- 1½ cups half-and-half
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional; replace with apple cider or half-and-half if desired)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Heaping ¼ teaspoon salt
For the apple topping
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Confectioners’ sugar and/or maple syrup
For the French Toast
- Butter a 9-by-13-inch or 3-quart baking dish. Slice the bread into ¾-inch-thick slices.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and salt.
- Dip each slice of challah into the custard mixture for about 5 seconds, then arrange in an overlapping pattern in the prepared baking dish. Be sure the entire bottom of the dish is covered with the bread. Pour any remaining custard over the bread. Set aside.
For the apple topping
- In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened and the sugar-syrup mixture is thickened, about 8 minutes. Spoon the apples and sugar-syrup mixture evenly over the bread, making sure not to leave any of the syrup behind. If not baking immediately, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Otherwise, proceed with the recipe.
- Heat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
Putting it together
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and, using a fine sieve, dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.
Baked Apple French Toast. Photo courtesy of Once Upon a Chef.