Blueberry Macadamia Nut French Toast Bake with a crunchy streusel topping! French toast casserole is a perfect make ahead breakfast for a crowd.
This was my birthday cake last year. And I’m sharing it today, because it’s my birthday month! Which basically means that I pick a dessert, make it, and we add a candle. Boom. It’s like most other months, plus a candle. Except for the one year when I just didn’t feel like baking anything and we literally bought some ice cream, scooped a bit into a bowl, and topped that with a candle. Real cake for my birthday happens accidentally, like this year when I’m testing a cake recipe, so am conveniently baking the day before my birthday and using that for FaceTime singing with the family. My “preferred” treat is going out to a birthday brunch, which we are doing.
I can’t be the only one who doesn’t really do cake on their birthday, right? I know of at least 2 other people who request pie. But I’m pretty sure using blueberry macadamia nut french toast bake as cake is a first. Maybe. There are a lot of people in this world and one can’t presume. Either way, it felt like a good idea between my love of birthday brunch and general ambivalence to birthday cake.
Blueberry macadamia nut french toast bake is a good casserole for feeding a crowd. Our little family barely made a dent, so we had french toast all week! Thank goodness it reheats well. But it’s definitely a recipe I’m keeping in mind for the holidays when we are visiting family. First, I can whip it up the day before and just bake in the morning (hooray), and second, I can swap frozen blueberries for fresh so I don’t have to worry about making something wildly out of season. Any recipe that gives you this kind of flexibility is a keeper in my book.
For the best results, especially if you plan to soak this overnight, use a brioche bread or egg bread like challah. If you’re unfamiliar with brioche, it’s a type of bread with a high butter and egg content – therefore delicious. 😉 It’s a cross between a pastry and a bread in a way, but perfectly suited for french toast. If you can’t find brioche breads, an egg bread like challah with a soft but sturdy texture is also perfect. What you want to avoid is a very porous bread that will lose all texture and turn to mush overnight. I also recommend purchasing a whole, un-sliced loaf and cutting it into cubes yourself.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention one thing… streusel topping! Because what’s a decadent french toast casserole without extra crunchy bits of butter and sugar on top? The streusel is the only thing you have to top the bake with in the morning. You can definitely make the streusel in advance, but you can’t add it to the blueberry macadamia nut french toast bake the day before or it won’t be crunchy! Just keep it in an airtight container or zip top plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight, sprinkle in the morning, and bake. It’s magical.
Anyway, happy birthday month to me! I’ll be celebrating this weekend, french toast may be involved. 😉
French Toast Bake
- 1 16 ounce loaf bread
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional Finishing Touches
- extra blueberries for garnish
- extra macadamia nuts for garnish
- maple syrup
The night before you intend to serve...
- Cut your loaf of bread into 1 inch cubes. Place in a greased 9x13" casserole dish.* Sprinkle with the berries and macadamia nuts. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Stir in the milk, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Pour over the bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
- Make the struesel topping. Combine the sugar, flour, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and work into the flour using a pastry cutter. Stop when you have pea-sized chunks, these become the crunchy bits! Store overnight in the refrigerator in a separate, sealed container.
When you are ready to bake...
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Remove your french toast casserole from the refrigerator, remove the plastic wrap, and top with the struesel topping.
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour until the french toast is a nice golden color. Serve warm with maple syrup and additional blueberries and nuts, if desired.
The casserole dish I used is slightly smaller than a 9x13", but not as small as 9x11. Use what you have, the only difference will be in the thickness of the casserole. You'll need to bake slightly less time for a thinner casserole.