Make Ahead Pumpkin Spice French Toast Bake
Happy National Pumpkin Spice Day!
It’s that time of year where everything is pumpkin spice; coffee, tea, donuts, ice cream, pancakes… SPAM* (the canned meat, not the emails) … so many things with pumpkin and spice!
I decided to add one more item to the list that is bound to be more delicious than pumpkin spice meats: An easy, make ahead Pumpkin Spice French Toast Bake. Admittedly, this recipe started is a click-baity kind of recipe but I found I actually really, really liked the way it turned out (that’s why I am sharing it with you!). It’s lightly sweet and it has a great pumpkin flavor. It’s also super-duper easy. It goes great topped with maple syrup or Salted Maple Caramel Sauce or Brown Sugar Whipped Cream (or all of the above? Ok, that might be too much sweet.).
The best part of this recipe, you can make it ahead of time. Like, the night before a brunch. And who doesn’t love brunch? In the wise words of Ron Swanson, “Why would anyone eat anything other than breakfast foods?”
But if you don’t have time to let the french toast bake sit overnight because you forgot that you were having people over for said brunch, you can technically make it straight away BUT the longer you let it sit the happier the ingredients become. Even an hour is better than nothing. But I get it, sometimes planning ahead is not something that was done and you need it now. So, go ahead and make it!
Another great thing about this recipe is that you can halve it and it still turns out great. That way you can make it just for yourself and you won’t have so many leftovers. Just use a smaller baking dish to keep the consistency and not over cook the bake.
*I would like to say, I have nothing against SPAM. In fact, the SPAM and cheese sandwich was one of my favorite school lunches in high school. So, let’s not turn this into an Oprah like moment. I don’t need SPAM coming after me.
If you have a nut allergy and cannot use almonds, you can substitute the almond flour for whole-wheat flour. You could even just use all all-purpose flour but you will miss out on some of the nutty flavor that whole-wheat flour provides. You may need to add an extra tablespoon or two of butter to help bring the crumble together.
Choosing your bread
Any bread will work in this recipe. But I prefer an enriched dough like challah or brioche. Of those two I try to use challah when I can.
Difference between Challah and Brioche
Both breads are enriched yeasted doughs. An enriched dough is just a bread dough that contains milk, butter, eggs, and/or sugar. The main difference between challah and brioche is butter. Brioche (being french) is loaded with butter and is almost a cross between a bread and a pastry. It is wonderful and rich and oh so tasty. But for me it’s just a little too sweet for this.
You can use day old bread to make this recipe but I don’t intentionally dry out my bread prior to mixing everything together. I know that some people do but, honestly, most of the time I forget to do it. Since this is already a 2-day recipe I really didn’t want to turn it into a 3-day recipe by having to let the bread sit out.
If you do choose to let your bread dry out or are using day old bread, you may find that you need another egg to completely saturate all of the bread.
P.S. If you are not reading this on October 1, it is no longer Pumpkin Spice Day. But that’s okay because this recipe is good any day of the year!
Pumpkin Spice French Toast Bake
- 9×13 baking dish
French Toast Bake
- 1 loaf challah or brioche approx. 500g, cut into large cubes
- 4 whole eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
- 1 – 7.5 ounce can pumpkin puree
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Butter, for greasing pan
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted but still warm
French Toast Prep
- Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking dish by greasing liberally with butter.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, and all spices. Add heavy cream, whole milk, and vanilla, whisk to incorporate. Add cubed bread to pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours.
- Sift together all dry ingredients into a medium size bowl. Pour in melted butter and mix to combine.
- Store in the fridge until ready to use.
When you are ready to bake
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Remove baking dish from the fridge, remove cling wrap and crumble topping over french toast bake. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, more time if you want a firmer middle, less time for a softer middle. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top with Maple Caramel Sauce and Brown Sugar Whipped Cream.