To round out the menu for the previously mentioned brunch, I figured I should have something sweet for those who weren’t egg lovers. I also wanted to make something that I could prep the night before because, since I invited people to start coming as early as 9:30, I knew I wouldn’t have a ton of time to get everything done! (And my neurotic need to make sure everything was perfect in time would just stress me out.)
This Orange Pecan French Toast Casserole seemed like the perfect make-ahead option. Plus, I always trust reader reviews on the websites I gather recipes from. People always have great ideas on how to improve a recipe, what worked and what didn’t, and whether it is worth attempting to make the dish…and this recipe got rave reviews.
To start, you make the topping that will caramelize as you bake the casserole. In a small bowl, whisk together some brown sugar, melted butter and maple syrup. Pour into a 13×9 baking pan sprayed with cooking spray. Then sprinkle pecans over the top of the sugar mixture.
Next, you combine orange juice, milk, cinnamon, vanilla, 3 egg whites and two whole eggs in a large bowl with a whisk. Making sure everything is well combined.
Then, slice your french bread and arrange the slices over the pecans in the pan. Filling in the wholes with torn pieces of the bread.
Once you are all set, pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread slices.
Cover the casserole with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least one hour, or up to overnight.
When you are ready to bake the casserole carefully turn each bread slice over, so the other side will sop up any remaining moisture. Preheat your oven while you let it stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Bake the casserole for about 35 minutes, or until it looks nice and golden brown.
Let the casserole cool for about 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven. Flip it over on a serving dish so the pecan-crusted side is on top.
If there is any topping left-over, simply scrap it from the pan and add to the slices.
Before I made this recipe I was a little nervous about the orange juice element and that it would overpower the rest of the dish. However, it turns out it lent a nice hint of citrus to the casserole and didn’t mask the sweetness of the glaze or the nuttiness of the pecans. It was a big hit and I will definitely be making it again. Perfect make-ahead recipe for an early morning brunch!
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup light butter, melted
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup orange juice, preferably fresh
1/2 cup 1% milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
9-12 slices of french bread (depends on the size of your loaf)
Combine brown sugar, butter and maple syrup in a bowl
Pour into 13×9 pan coated with cooking spray
Sprinkle pecans evenly over sugar mixture
Combine orange juice, mil, cinnamon, vanilla, egg whites and egg in a large bowl; whisking until well-combined
Arrange bread slices over pecans in the baking pan
Pour egg mixture over the bread slices
Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight
Carefully turn bread slices over and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350º
Bake the casserole for 35 minutes or until golden brown
Cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan by flipping over to serve
Yields 12 servings