Perfect for Christmas morning, this french toast casserole is super easy to prepare for family brunch. With the unexpected flavours of chai spice, and a sweet crumb topping, this casserole is only made better served with a generous drizzle of maple syrup.
Welcome December! The month of celebrations and get togethers with family and friends. Or as I like to call it, the month of eating!
With the holiday time comes countless breakfasts, morning teas, brunches, long lunches and festive dinners. For those of us that enjoy the preparing and eating of food (me!) it is an enjoyable time to make memories around meals.
Breakfast is without a doubt the most important meal of the day and I usually class any breakfast foods as my favourite, sweet or savory. And while I do tend to veer on the side of savoury breakfast and brunch foods, there is just something extra special about today’s spiced french toast casserole that makes me team sweet all the way.
I have always loved french toast. I love the golden egg soaked bread, and the dusting of cinnamon sugar, and of course the drizzle of maple syrup on top. But what I don’t love is the mess and the hassle it can be to make for a lazy cook like me – especially in the morning.
Enter french toast casserole, the perfect solution to this problem. Simply throw all the same ingredients as your traditional french toast into a casserole dish and let the oven do the work. No need to stand over a hot stove. Brilliant.
The key ingredient of this dish is of course the bread. If you are planning to make this for friends and family or perhaps for Christmas morning, buy the bread a couple of days before. The key to a good french toast casserole is stale bread, which also makes it perfect for any leftovers you may have. If you’re buying the bread the day before, just cut it up and leave it sitting out overnight to go stale.
We want stale bread because it will hold its shape more and not disintegrate into a soggy mess once the egg mixture has soaked through. No one wants soggy bread.
The thing though that takes makes this french toast casserole special is the chai spice. Sure you can just use cinnamon, but the flavours of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg all mixed together provide a fragrant, delicious flavour that elevates the dish and gives it just that little bit unexpected extra yumness.
But that’s not all.
We also are taking the crumble topping from my favourite chai spiced tea cake and adding it here. This gives the casserole a buttery, sugary, crunchy top that is the perfect textural contrast to the soft egg soaked bread. It is seriously good and makes this brunch a little reminiscent of dessert. So no complaints here.
To top everything off, french toast would not be complete without a generous pour of maple syrup over the top. Make sure to use 100% pure maple syrup as well as while it is a little more expensive the flavour just doesn’t compare to the maple flavoured stuff.
This recipe is pretty hands off which is what I like. Once in the oven you have 30 minutes to drink your coffee, chat to your guests and drool over the smells that flow through from the oven.
The casserole doesn’t really reheat the same, so it is best enjoyed straight after baking, perfect for lazy mornings spent with the family.
If you do make this recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and rating below! And tag any of your creations on Instagram with #eightforestlane as I would love to see.
- 1 loaf 450 grams stale bread
- 6 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 1/2 cups vanilla almond milk
- 1 tablespoon chai spice mix
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ cup plain flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup 60 grams dairy-free spread*
- 1 teaspoon chai spice mix
Preheat oven to 180°C. Slice bread and cut into one inch cubes and arrange bread in a casserole dish, the one I use is 22 cm square and 7 cm deep.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, almond milk, chai spice and sugar until combined. Pour over the bread evenly, stirring to make sure all the bread pieces are coated. Set aside to rest while you make the topping.
- Make the crumb topping by mixing flour, brown sugar & chai spice mix with cold dairy-free spread with a fork or your hands until crumbs form. Sprinkle over the top of the bread and place the casserole in the oven for 30 minutes or until the egg is set and the top is golden. This casserole is best served immediately and with a generous drizzle of maple syrup.
Bread needs to be stale for this recipe to work otherwise it will risk being soggy. If you don’t have a loaf of stale bread lying around, cut up a fresh one into cubes the night before and spread over a tray. Leave out overnight on your kitchen bench covered lightly with a tea towel.
I make my own chai spice mix using the following: 3 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground cardamom. Any remaining spice mix can be kept in a airtight container in the pantry.
*I use Nuttelex Buttery to replace butter in most of my recipes as it is dairy-free and gives a 'buttery' flavour without being greasy. As this is an Australian product, the closest US alternative I believe is Earth Balance. Otherwise any dairy-free spread will work
Not from Australia? Check out my US Conversion Guide!