One chef I’ve just never made my mind up about is Paula Deen. She does seem like a sweet lady, and a lot of her recipes sound amazing. Even so, it really rubs me the wrong way that she’s spent years promoting all this incredibly unhealthy food, and now that she has diabetes, she’s making money by plugging a diabetes drug. Shady. Super shady.
I found this Paula Deen French toast casserole awhile ago and thought it would be great to make for breakfast when my in-laws were staying with us. Then I looked at it a little more closely. I know Paula is famous for loving butter, but two sticks of butter in a breakfast that’s supposed to serve 6 people? And two cups of half-and-half? That’s just…unnecessary.
Instead of Paula’s breakfast heart attack, I decided to make another overnight French toast casserole that was somewhat less nutritionally shocking. I still think this is a decadent breakfast – lots of yummy brown sugar and cinnamon and even some butter – but at least it’s within the bounds of normalcy. Plus, I love that you can do absolutely everything the night before, then just pop it straight out of the fridge and into the oven in the morning. Ideal for overnight guests!
OVERNIGHT FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE (recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything)
4 tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 loaf challah bread, sliced into 1 1/2 inch thick slices (brioche or French bread would work, too)
8 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup milk (whole is best)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/8 tsp salt
- In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and melted butter. Pour on bottom of 9×13 baking dish. Arrange slices of bread in baking dish, overlapping if necessary.
- Combine milk, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a bowl and pour evenly over bread slices. Sprinkle chopped pecans over bread slices. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- The next morning, preheat oven to 350 and let casserole sit out while oven preheats. Bake approximately 30 minutes. If casserole starts browning too quickly, cover loosely with foil for last 10 minutes or so.
- Remove casserole from oven and let cool slightly before serving. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup (optional).
Even with only 25% the butter of Paula Deen’s recipe, this was still a delicious and decadent treat. It honestly doesn’t need any syrup or powdered sugar or anything; it’s fantastic as is. One note – I laid all the bread slices flat in the pan instead of overlapping, which I think was the right way to go, because they really soaked up all that yummy brown sugar.