Cranberry French Toast Casserole is one of my favorite recipes that use cranberries. Perfect for Christmas breakfast or any other special breakfast or brunch!
Cranberry French Toast Casserole is a Christmas breakfast that can be made in just over an hour. Unlike most French Toast Casseroles, this is not an overnight French Toast Casserole, so no pre-planning required!
“You nailed this one” was the compliment I received about this Cranberry French Toast Casserole the first morning I made it.
The truth is, I had a ton of cranberries and needed to use them, it was Thanksgiving morning and I had guests, so I gave it a whirl. However, this was my first time making a French Toast Casserole and did you know that even if “overnight” isn’t in the title, the all of the recipes (at least the ones I read) are for overnight French toast casseroles?
Well I didn’t have overnight to let the custard sink into the bread, so I made my own “1-hour French Toast Casserole” and darn it, it came out awesome!
So while you can make it ahead if you’d like, you can also make it in just an hour with a few tips and tricks that can probably be applied to other overnight French toast casseroles too.
Most French toast recipes use French bread… it is French, right? But I prefer to use brioche or Challah bread. For this French toast casserole, Challah was the bread of choice.
What is Challah bread? Challah bread is a traditionally Jewish bread made into a braid. Like brioche, it is a yeast bread that uses eggs, giving it a yellow tinge, fluffier texture and more robust taste.
These elements make it perfect for French bread, or at least a more fun choice than flour based and dense French bread. You can still use French bread, or any other type of bread you wish as long as it is 16 ounces.
I know what you are waiting for… the magic of taking this from an overnight French toast casserole to just a 1-hour casserole. The only reason these are overnight is to allow the custard base to soak into your bread. However, this can be easily achieved by gently squishing the bread into the custard with your hands.
It does still behoove you to refrigerate for a small amount of time and retoss. Otherwise the custard just pools at the bottom and you end up with layers of bread and soupy quiche.
Because it doesn’t have as much time and I added fruit with a good amount of water, I reduced the amount of liquid that most use. It was still moist and delicious.
While I made this for breakfast on Thanksgiving, I can’t think of a better Christmas breakfast than this Cranberry French Toast Casserole. In fact, I’m fairly positive this is what I’ll be baking up for Christmas breakfast this year.
Since you like this Cranberry French Toast Casserole, you may like these other easy French toast recipes:
Coat 2-3 inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear Challah bread into 2 inch pieces and place in casserole dish. Top with 1 cup fresh cranberries. Set aside. This will seem like a lot and probably pile up over the rim of your casserole dish, but after it has soaked in the custard, it will go down.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, lightly beaten eggs, light brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk until little bubbles form.
*Pour over Challah bread. Toss and lightly squeeze with your hands. Since you aren't letting the custard absorb overnight, you need to give it a helping hand. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove from the refrigerator, toss again to coat with any custard that sunk to the bottom. Top with remaining 1 cup fresh cranberries. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine cold butter, light brown sugar, fine sea salt, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Blend or cut using a pastry cutter until well combined.
- Using two forks, drops pieces evenly on the top of the casserole.
- Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Remove and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. Maple syrup is optional.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!
*If you are making an overnight French toast casserole, skip squeezing the bread and simple cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Pick back up in the morning with tossing to get get any custard that fell to the bottom.