Lemon Blueberry Overnight Baked French Toast with Lemon Syrup
Bursting with juicy berries and layered with lemon-infused cream cheese, Lemon Blueberry Overnight Baked French Toast with Lemon Syrup makes a special, make-ahead breakfast or brunch for celebrating Easter or spring!
1loaf soft French breadcut into 1-inch cubes (approximately 1 pound loaf, which will yield 9 to 10 cups)
8ouncescream cheeseat room temperature
3tablespoonsfreshly-squeezed lemon juice
12ounces(about 2 cups) fresh blueberries
1 3/4cupwhole milk
1/2cuppure maple syrup
1tablespoonpure vanilla extract
FOR THE LEMON SYRUP:
1/3cupfreshly-squeezed lemon juice
1teaspoonfresh lemon zest
2tablespoonssalted butterat room temperature
1/2teaspoonpure vanilla extract
Generously butter (or coat with cooking spray) a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the dish.
In a large bowl, beat together softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest until smooth. Spoon small dollops of cream cheese mixture all over the bread cubes in the baking dish, gently spreading cream cheese with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle blueberries in a single layer over the cream cheese. Top with remaining bread cubes.
In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon zest, and salt until well blended. Evenly pour custard over bread cubes, gently pressing down on any cubes that are sticking up so that all bread gets soaked with egg mixture.
Cover baking dish tightly and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, uncover baking dish and allow to come to room temperature while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until center is puffed and surface is golden brown. If bread is starting to brown too much before casserole is done, you may lay a sheet of foil over the top and continue baking until done.
While French toast is baking, make the Lemon Syrup. In a small pot, whisk together water, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and corn starch until well blended. Set pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until syrup has thickened. Remove pot from the heat and stir in butter, heavy cream, and vanilla, until all ingredients are smooth and well blended. Set aside and allow to cool.
When French toast is done, remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving warm with Lemon Syrup drizzled on top.
You may substitute your favorite type of bread for the French bread...challah, croissants, etc.
It took me three large lemons to get the required amount of juice and zest for this recipe.
I use a stand mixer (KitchenAid) to make whisking the custard quick and easy.
Instead of refrigerating overnight, French toast casserole may be baked immediately in a preheated oven.
Baking time can be dependent on the type of bread you use, how dry it was, how long it soaks overnight, etc. Different people may prefer this type of recipe to be moister or drier.
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