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Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake

I’m writing you today. Because I wouldn’t consider myself any kind of a friend if I didn’t share this intensely delicious, exquisitely beautiful, ridiculously rich Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake with you.

A cinnamon-sugar topping makes it crispy on the top with a rich, custard-like texture underneath, infused throughout with zesty orange and studded with cranberries for bright pops of flavor.

If that wasn’t enough to have you begging for mercy, it’s topped off with a drizzling of vibrant orange syrup, which I would name as one of three things I would take with me if I were ever stranded on an island. Because you know, one must always be prepared for those kinds of scenarios.

It was a huge hit with everyone. We even talked about it days later, as if by reminiscing, we could almost taste it again. You’ll definitely have to give this one a try.

Just a few notes:

For the bread, I used some left-over cranberry bread that I had in my freezer, but if you don’t have that on hand, just use some day-old French or white bread and toss some fresh cranberries in there.

A note about the syrup: the original recipe called for blanching and draining, and blanching and draining the orange zest two times to remove the bitterness before adding it to the syrup. Well, lazy me, I didn’t want to spend the time, so I took a shortcut and brought a bowl of water to a boil in the microwave, and then I added the zest and let it sit for several minutes. Then I just drained the water. This worked out great—no bitterness at all!

Hope you love it as much as we did!

This bread pudding-like Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake is crispy on top with a smooth, custardy bottom and is vibrantly delicious, infused with orange and pops of cranberry. Served with a bright orange syrup.

Ingredients:

FOR THE FRENCH TOAST:

  • One loaf of day-old French bread or white bread (can use cranberry bread, if you have it)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (if not using cranberry bread)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 T. vanilla
  • Zest from one orange

FOR THE CINNAMON-SUGAR TOPPING:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 T. cold butter, cut into pieces

FOR THE ORANGE SYRUP:

  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. butter

Directions:

FOR THE FRENCH TOAST:

Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.

Tear or slice bread into small pieces and place in an even layer in the baking dish.

Scatter cranberries evenly over the bread pieces.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour evenly over the bread pieces, making sure each piece gets soaked with the mixture.

Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

FOR THE CINNAMON-SUGAR TOPPING:

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, if desired.

Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut in the butter pieces. You want to mash up the cold butter into the mixture until it’s nice and crumbly.

Store in a baggie in the fridge until ready to use.

FOR THE ORANGE SYRUP:

In a small bowl, microwave about a cup of water until boiling. Add orange zest to the water and let sit for a few minutes. This will help to remove any bitterness leftover from the orange peel, so don’t skip this step.

Drain the zest.

In a medium saucepan, bring orange juice, sugar, water, and drained zest to a boil.

Stirring occasionally, continue boiling until syrup has reduced down and is thicker and syrupy, probably 20 minutes or so.

Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Serve warm over French Toast bake. Can re-heat in the microwave if needed.

TO BAKE:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Remove French Toast dish from the fridge and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Cut into individual portions and drizzle warm orange syrup over the top to serve.


 

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