It’s almost May (crazy!) and that means Mother’s Day is coming up. Make sure to show the mom in your life how much she means by making her this decadent-tasting berry French toast casserole. And you don’t even have to admit how easy it is to make ;).
Growing up, Mother’s Day was even more special because my mom’s birthday is falls around the same week (and some years even the same day). As a child this was great because it meant TWO desserts. Specifically two pies. We would always drive to Marie Calendars and pick up a strawberry pie for Mother’s Day and a kalua chocolate cheesecake pie for my mom’s birthday (I have since come up with a homemade recipe for the kahlua cheesecake. . .so good but definitely far from healthy 😉 ). It was almost always warm that weekend too, and I can vividly picture sitting outside on the deck at our old house in one of my special-occasion dresses, just waiting for my mom to cut into the strawberry pie. So, when I went about thinking of a recipe to share with you, I knew it had to involve strawberries.
While I didn’t go the pie-route, I still went down memory lane as one of my favorite breakfasts my mom makes is a cream cheese blueberry French toast casserole. It’s dangerously addicting. With this recipe I combined the bright, spring flavors of fresh berries from the strawberry pie with the coziness of the baked French toast to create a dish worthy of Mother’s Day brunch.
Many baked French toast recipes recommend only using the inside of the bread and removing the crusts. I wholeheartedly disagree. Bry and I both loved the alternating chewy and gooey bites that you get with using the whole loaf. So, for the best texture, go to the bakery section of your grocery store and pick out a crusty loaf of sourdough bread (bonus if your bakery makes whole wheat sourdough). Let it sit out for a night or two to get a little bit stale (it will absorb more of the custard this way without getting too mushy). When you’re ready to make the casserole, simply tear the bread into chunks (or if you are more refined, you can use a knife to cut about 1”-thick cubes).
Another common recommendation for French toast casseroles is to let them sit in the fridge overnight to soak up the custard. I, however, was not patient enough for this and only let mine sit for 4 hours before I baked it. And it came out great! But it will likely work just as well if you want to make it the night before and bake it in the morning.
While you are welcome to add a drizzle of pure maple syrup on top, I found that it was plenty sweet without it. Actually, I forgot to add the maple syrup. I was just so excited to take a bite and didn’t realize until I had finished eating that I never added the syrup. It really is sweet enough on its own! Bry did go the syrup route (as you can see from the top picture) and couldn’t stop saying how good it was. You can’t go wrong either way 🙂
So here’s a toast to celebrating the most important women in our lives with food cooked from the heart! (As well as a toast to the first French Toast Post on The Healthy Toast 😉 )
- 8 slices bakery-style sourdough bread (the one I bought wasn't pre-sliced but contained 8 servings based on the nutrition label)
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed
- 6-oz fresh blackberries, rinsed
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1 Tbs cornstarch
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (any milk will work)
- 6 eggs
- 1 Tbs vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Maple Syrup for topping
- Cut up strawberries and place in medium-sized mixing bowl with blackberries, honey, and cornstarch. Stir well.
- Lightly coat 9 x 13 casserole pan with baking spray and place 1/2 of the berry mixture on the bottom of the pan.
- Cut or tear bread into 1"-thick cubes and place in pan on top of berries.
- Whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread cubes.
- Top with remaining berries and cover. Place in fridge for 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375°F. While oven preheats, let casserole sit out on the counter.
- Once the oven is preheated, place the casserole on the middle shelf and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the bread starts to brown.
- Remove from oven, slice, and enjoy!
- For 1/8th of recipe: 275 calories, 5 g Fat, 1 g Saturated Fat, 44 g Carbohydrate, 12 g Fiber, 20 g Sugar, 10 g Protein