For the French toast:
4 large eggs
1 cup half-and-half (or milk)
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Dash grated nutmeg
1 small French baguette*, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5-6 cups)
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Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl. Whisk briefly. Add the half-and-half, maple syrup, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla bean pod. Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk well until the mixture is evenly combined. Stir in the cubes of bread until evenly coated.
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Lightly grease four individual oven-safe serving dishes (or a single casserole dish – your call. If you go this route, you will likely need to increase the baking time until the center is baked through). Divide the bread-egg mixture evenly between the dishes. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least two hours or up to overnight.
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When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Remove the plastic wrap from the dishes. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until puffed up and light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Serve as desired with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and fresh berries.
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*In case you’re in the habit of making your own French bread, one of these baguettes was the perfect size.