Friday, November 2, 2012

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole with Buttered Rum Sauce

This is my new favorite breakfast. It’s cozy. It’s sweet and spiced. It’s got crunchy pieces and gooey pieces. It’s perfect for a 46-degree Saturday morning when you’re still trying to make it another month before firing up the furnace.

For the French toast casserole part, I pretty much followed a halved version of a recipe on Buns in My Oven. Though honey oat bread is my favorite French toast base, so I used that instead of French bread. I also decided to cube my bread instead of slicing it and doing two layers in the pan. Mostly because I didn’t start the bread soon enough the night before and wanted desperately to go to bed. So cutting the fresh hot bread into cubes was how I could make it cool more quickly so I could assemble the casserole. I’m pretty happy with my decision, though I suppose maybe this should be called bread pudding since the bread is cubed. (?) In fact, if you need a good dessert idea, call this bread pudding and—voila!—you’ll have a dessert instead of a breakfast.

For the sauce, I combined elements of Paula Deen’s praline topping recipe as seen on Buns in My Oven, with elements of the buttered rum sauce from this Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread recipe that a friend shared with me (yes, I will be making that recipe soon).

Part way through baking, I was worried that the cubes on top would turn into croutons and be unpleasant. But the texture was great! Pouring the buttered rum sauce on top part way through baking helped moisten the top layer. Parts of the top layer were definitely more crispy (though not quite crouton consistently, thankfully), which provided a nice contrast to the gooeier layer below.

This casserole reheated really well, though the texture was not quite as nice and varied when reheated.

Pumpkin French Toast Casserole with Buttered Rum Sauce

Adapted from Buns in My Oven
Yield: 4 servings (one 11 x 7 dish)

About 8 oz. bread, cubed (I used honey oat bread)
1 Tbsp. melted butter
3/4 cup milk
2-1/2 eggs (2 eggs + 1 egg white)
3/8 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
Pinch of cloves

For the sauce
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 Tbsp. rum (or substitute vanilla extract; or substitute 1/4-1/2 tsp. rum extract)

The night before: Spray an 11 x 7 inch glass pan and arrange bread cubes in the bottom. Whisk together remaining ingredients (through cloves). I find that the whisk attachment on my immersion blender is great for whisking eggs and leaving no globs behind. Pour over the bread cubes; cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

The morning of: Remove casserole from fridge. Preheat oven to 350. Bake, uncovered, for 40-60 minutes, until casserole is browned and heated through. Mine took 40 minutes, but the recipe I was following said 50-60 minutes.

For the buttered rum sauce: About 20-30 minutes into the casserole’s bake time, put butter into a microwave-safe dish. Microwave in 20-second intervals until melted. Stir in brown sugar and stir until mostly dissolved. It may require a couple more 20-second trips to the microwave. Stir in pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and rum/vanilla/extract. Remove casserole from oven and drizzle with sauce. Return to the oven for the remainder of the baking time.

When it’s finished baking, allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before digging in. You can eat it as-is, or add a drizzle of honey or syrup and/or a dusting of powdered sugar.

Ideas for next time
  • For extra rich and gooey, I might make twice as much buttered rum sauce—half of it for pouring on top of the casserole for the last 10-20 minutes of baking time, and half saved to drizzle on right before eating. Especially if serving as a dessert rather than as breakfast. 
  • I wonder what this would be like with light coconut milk instead of regular milk. And/or coconut oil instead of butter in the sauce.

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