Baked Challah French Toast Casserole

This Baked Challah French Toast Casserole is one of my go-to breakfast recipes when I’m hosting family and friends for breakfast and brunch. It has classic French toast flavors and is baked in a convenient casserole dish. I make it by layering chunks of challah bread and soaking them overnight in a mixture of eggs, milk, and spices. Once the bread is soaked, it’s baked until golden and puffed.

On Friday evenings at sundown, my family and I celebrate Shabbat and welcome the Jewish day of rest. Typical Shabbat foods include challah (a braided egg bread) and wine, which are both blessed before the meal begins. It’s become our tradition to make challah French toast the following morning with our leftover challah and the kids absolutely love it. I love making this easy baked French toast recipe for the holidays or whenever I’m hosting a group!

RECIPE INSPIRATION

Leading up to the holidays (or any family get-together!), my three sisters and I have multiple brainstorming sessions over the phone to discuss what we’re going to make when we are all reunited. While we enjoy cooking, we’re always looking for shortcuts to minimize our time in the kitchen and maximize our time eating and catching up.

This Challah French Toast Casserole quickly became a family favorite. It’s a spin on the traditional challah French toast I make for Amado and Valentina, but can be prepared in advance and baked right before serving, all in the same dish for easy cleanup. It’s perfect for holiday brunches or any time I’m hosting a group of friends and family for breakfast.

WHAT IS CHALLAH?

Challah is a semi-sweet egg bread we enjoy on Friday evenings for Shabbat and other Jewish holidays. It is made from leavened yeast dough and is reminiscent of the famous pan de Acámbaro I grew up eating as a child.

Challah in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda Market

IS BRIOCHE OR CHALLAH BETTER FO FRENCH TOAST?

What kind of bread do you use for a French toast casserole, you ask? Brioche and challah are both rich, eggy breads that are excellent for French toast, but for this recipe, I prefer using challah because it is more dense than brioche and can hold up to the creamy milk and egg batter that soaks into the bread overnight. Also, it’s the perfect way to use up any leftover challah from our Shabbat dinners!

INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED

Homemade challah and high quality ingredients make this dish feel extra celebratory, so I highly recommend reaching for Nellie’s Free Range Eggs and Grass-Fed Butter. From hens and cows raised with love under humane standards, these baking essentials will give your finished casserole a creamy, custard-like texture perfect for any special occasion brunch!

  • 1 pound challah bread torn into 4” x 4” pieces
  • 4 tablespoons Nellie’s Free Range Unsalted Butter (½ stick), thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • 6 Nellie’s Free Range Eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup ground piloncillo or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans (optional)

OPTIONAL GARNISHES

  • Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
  • Maple or agave syrup, for serving
  • Fresh berries, for serving

RECOMMENDED FOR THIS RECIPE

Pretty Serving Dish

Casserole dish for challah French toast

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

This is the perfect dish for entertaining because it is best to prepare it the night before for best results. Here are a few quick prep and serving tips:

Step 1

  • Tear challah bread into large chunks (about 4 x 4 inches in size) and allow to dry for 1 to 3 hours on a baking sheet. If you’re short on time, at a minimum, allow the bread to dry while preparing the other ingredients.

Step 2

  • While the bread dries, prepare the egg and milk mixture that will get soaked into it.

Step 3

  • Arrange bread in an oven-safe baking dish and distribute raisins evenly between chunks of bread and then evenly distribute butter on top before coating with the egg mixture, covering, and refrigerating overnight.

Step 4

  • Bake about an hour before serving and allow at least 10 minutes to set and cool. Check after about 30 minutes to make sure it’s not getting dark too quickly. If so, either tent with foil or lower to 325 for the remainder of the cook time.
  • To serve, use a sifter and sprinkle the entire casserole with a light coating of powdered sugar. Allow guests to add their own maple syrup and berries to avoid soggy French toast.
Baked Challah French Toast Casserole

PAIRING SUGGESTIONS

What pairs well with challah, you ask? While this dish is quite filling on its own, if you want to go all out and offer a full brunch spread, here are some ideas of what to serve alongside my challah French toast to really wow the masses:

LOOKING FOR MORE INSPIRATION?

Check out these ideas for more brunch and breakfast ideas:

Baked Challah French Toast Casserole

Baked Challah French Toast Casserole

by Lola Dweck
This Baked Challah French Toast Casserole is one of my go-to breakfast dishes when I'm hosting family and friends for breakfast and brunch.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 21 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 384 kcal

Equipment

  • Baking sheet for drying challah
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Baking dish (9” x 18”)
  • Ladle

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound challah bread torn into large pieces
  • cup golden raisins
  • 4 tablespoons Nellie’s Free Range Unsalted Butter ½ stick, thinly sliced
  • 6 Nellie’s Free Range Eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • cup ground piloncillo or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans optional

GARNISHES

  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
  • Maple or agave syrup for serving
  • Fresh berries for serving

Instructions
 

  • Butter a 9” x 13” baking dish. Arrange the torn challah to cover the baking dish completely, leaving no gaps in between the bread. Nestle the sliced butter and raisins in between the bread.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, ground piloncillo, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Using a ladle, pour the milk mixture over the bread to coat each piece very well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • About an hour before serving, remove cover and sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden and puffed, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
  • To serve, dust with powdered sugar and cut into squares before serving with maple syrup and fresh berries.

Nutrition

Serving: 8ouncesCalories: 384kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 10gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 265mgPotassium: 236mgFiber: 2gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 809IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 143mgIron: 2mg
384
LOVE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below or tag me on social media @lolascoina

Many thanks to Nellie’s Free Range Eggs for sponsoring this post. As always, the recipe and opinions shared about these products are my own.

Recipe Originally Published: December 21, 2022 Photography + Styling: Cacey McReavy

Lola Wiarco Dweck

Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.

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