When I realized the Apple French Toast my family only makes on Christmas could be made any day of the year, I made one of my greatest culinary discoveries ever. It’s decadent apple-cinnamon flavor, paired with the baked baguette, appears to be a Christmas-only dish, but the simple preparation and the ability to prepare it the night before, makes it an delicious and easy breakfast for holidays and weekends.
And so, I started a new tradition and made it for our Easter brunch, our first holiday in our new apartment. Juan lovingly agreed to dye eggs with me so that we could decorate our table. We prepared the French Toast the night before and stuffed fluorescent plastic eggs with even more fluorescent-colored jellybeans for our friends.
After a dreary, gray Saturday, we awoke to an incredibly beautiful Sunday morning. The weather was warm and humid, the sun blessed our kitchen and dining room, and the birds chirped, letting us know that spring had finally come. (The sprinkles during our afternoon bike ride reminded us yet again, that spring, not summer, was here.)
Although we do not practice any religion, I still appreciate the time that Easter provides us to rest from our busy lives, remember and be thankful for all the people in our lives, and reconnect with each other. We had a lovely morning doing just these things with some of our Boston friends, some that I have known all my life, and others that I have just met. We hope this breakfast will provide you with the same opportunities, on a holiday or just to make the weekend a little bit more special.
Apple French ToastMakes 2- 8” x 10” baking dishes, serves about 8 to 10 people This recipe is perfect for serving large groups for brunch. You can prepare it the night before and bake it in the morning! Make sure you buy the bread a couple days before so that it doesn’t crumble and fall apart when soaked.
For the French Toast… 1 cup packed brown sugar 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter 6 or 7 medium red apples, peeled and cut into ¼” slices 4 eggs 1 ½ cups milk 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 ½ to 2 French baguettes, about 2 days old, cut into 1” to 1 ½” slices
For the sauce… 2 cups of unsweetened applesauce 2 teaspoons of cinnamon with either… 1 cup of apple jelly or ½ cup of applesauce 2 teaspoons of honey 1 teaspoon vanilla 3-5 teaspoons of any kind of jelly that isn’t berry (apricot, peach, uchuva)
Over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. When the sauce starts to pull away from the sides and appears almost like caramel, it is ready. Spread an even layer of this sauce on the bottom of two glass baking dishes. Place a layer of apple slices on top of the brown sugar sauce. You can add another layer of apples on top to cover up the gaps if you have enough leftover slices!
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon. Dip the baguette slices into the mixture, just like you are making French Toast. When the slices are saturated, place them on top of the apple layer in the baking dish until the whole dish is full. Pack them tightly, breaking pieces off to fill in the big gaps if necessary. If you have left over egg mixture, pour over the bread. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon over the top, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but its better if you leave it overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 375˚F and remove the dishes from the refrigerator to warm up for at least 15 minutes. Bake the French Toast for about 35-45 minutes, or until slightly brown on top.
While this is baking, whisk the applesauce, cinnamon, and apple jelly in a medium saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Or if remember the morning of that you forgot to buy apple jelly (I know from experience), you can improvise by adding the other extra goodies to the applesauce to make a tad bit sweeter.
When the French Toast is slightly browned, remove it from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes so the bread can soak up some of the juices. Spoon the bread out with the apples slices and brown sugar sauce. Pour over some of the warm, spiced applesauce and devour immediately.