There’s this cool little bakery/restaurant in town called Vine Sourdough Bakery. It’s all the way on the other side of town so it’s not a place we get to visit often. As it happens, Son #1 plays an acoustic duet show with his best friend and they’re invited to play at Vine on Friday evenings every now and then. Being parents of musicians means we simply have to go wherever they go. Yay for us when it takes us to funky eateries and hip local bars! 😎
So, at Vine they bake fabulous breads and as I was perusing the case to see what they had to offer, this beautiful loaf of challah sang a siren’s song and I was
hooked. I wanted to rip off a large chunk right there and slather it with sweet creamy butter, but heavenly French toast chock full of cinnamon-y goodness kept popping into my head. A couple of years ago, one of my BFF’s son was called to the Torah and I attended his Bar Mitzvah. Gayle had challah left over and gave me half of a very large loaf. I sliced it up and made the best French toast I’d ever eaten with it.There was only one problem with me making individual slices of French toast with it – I hate making French toast. I’d love to soundly kiss the cheeks of whoever first came up with a French toast casserole. LOL
I’ve made a couple of FTCs before (one in the Crock Pot that was pretty good and super easy), and while I liked them well enough, the family wasn’t impressed. I searched the internet and found a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction that sounded perfect and gave it a go. Of course I made a few changes and this time the family thought my FTC was almost perfect. However, they felt the addition of the sweet cream cheese took it too far over the top. I think they’re wrong and I’d make it the same way again. So you can leave the cream cheese plops out or add them in. Your call. 😋 Now, the thing that really makes this FTC even more incredibly decadent is the streusel topping. That crispy, crunchy, sweet, cinnamon-y layer is simply divine and not to be left out!
Challah French Toast Casserole With or Without Cream Cheese is best when left to sit in the fridge over-night before baking. You can even freeze it for up to two months unbaked. Leave off the crumb topping, but go ahead and make it and store in the fridge with the overnight version to add right before putting it in the oven. Or store in a tightly lidded container in the freezer and thaw in the fridge with the freezer version.
Challah French Toast Casserole With or Without Cream Cheese
1 loaf of challah bread, stale & cubed
Cut the challah into 1″ thick slices and spread out to dry for several hours. Stale bread makes a better French toast.
Cream Cheese Mixture:
- 1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp.cinnamon
- 5 eggs (8 if you like it more eggy)
- 3 cups milk (whole milk if you’ve got it)
- 1 tbsp. vanilla
- 1 tbsp. cinnamon
- 1 stick very cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Syrup 😛
Spray a 9×13 pan with oil. Cut the bread into 1″ cubes. Spread half into the pan. Using a whisk, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon until completely smooth. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of cream cheese mixture evenly over top of bread. Spread the rest of the bread cubes over the cream cheese plops. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs, cinnamon, milk, brown sugar, and vanilla until well blended. Pour over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Using a pasty blender or a fork, smash the cold cubed butter, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl until crumbly. Cover tightly and store with casserole in the fridge or freezer.
To Bake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the soaked bread cubes.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until golden brown on top. Cut into squares and serve with syrup.
Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cinnamon Roll Cake in another delightfully decadent breakfast treat loved by one and all. Perfect for overnight guests and holiday breakfasts – or anytime!
Happy eating! 😊