Gingerbread French Toast Breakfast Bake

Ingredients

1 long loaf French bread, sliced about 3/4-inch thick, about 24 slices (I used fresh, but 1 or 2-day old is fine)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (half of 1 stick)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk (optionally use 3/4 cup if your bread is old or very crusty/hard)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light, medium, or dark molasses (not blackstrap, too bitter)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
pinch salt, optional and to taste
confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup or regular maple syrup , for serving

Directions
Line an 8-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray.
Add the sliced bread in 3 rows of about 8 slices per row, slightly overlapping. It will be a tight fit to get 3 rows in when bread is dry, but softens as it marinates and you can rearrange it with ease, if necessary, after time has passed; set pan aside.
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute (or use browned butter). Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don’t scramble the eggs or curdle the milk.
Add the next 10 ingredients, through optional salt, and whisk to combine. I used the full amount of spices listed, but if you’re more sensitive to spices, reduce them to taste, possibly halving all amounts.
Slowly and evenly pour mixture over the bread, gently separating the slices with your fingers, and pour marinade between the slices. It will seem like a lot and it is, but most soaks in overnight.
Cover pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and place in fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight (or up to 24 hours) is better.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F and remove pan from fridge while oven preheats.
The next morning, carefully spoon any pooled liquid at the bottom of the pan over the top of the bread, redistributing it and re-drenching any white patches or dry looking places.
Bake for about 20 to 35 minutes, or until done. Baking times will vary greatly based on how much liquid did or didn’t soak into your bread, how firm or soft bread was to begin with, personal preference for doneness, oven and climate variances, etc. I baked for 28 minutes in my very hot-running oven; my bread was very soft and fresh, and it was very juicy before baking. I didn’t need to, but if you feel like your bread is crisping up or browning a bit too quickly, tent with a sheet of foil laid over the top.
Optionally, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve with butter and syrup, or your favorite French toast toppings, i.e. fruit or jam. French toast is best fresh, but extra will keep airtight for up to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the micro before serving.

 

Recipe courtesy of averiecooks.com

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