Our May Cookbook of the Month is Katie Workman’s The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, what mom wouldn’t love a cookbook with “oomph, attitude and culinary savvy”? It’s packed with “100 doable, dilemma-solving, delicious recipes that moms (and even dads) can depend on for breakfast, lunch, dinner, bake sales, potlucks, easy entertaining and coping with that scourge of the table, the fussy eater.”
Love this vegetarian take on French toast!
Lazy Oven French Toast
Basically a strata, this dish is composed of layers of eggs, milk, and bread, plus your choice of flavorings. Stratas can be sweet, enhanced with chopped dried fruit, nuts, chocolate, or booze (that’s for another book, though), or savory, layered with cheese, ham, and so on. This one cooks up much like a French toast casserole. The title of the recipe implies that your oven is lazy, which of course is ridiculous. Rather, it’s the perfect brunch dish for a lazy weekend morning because everything can be assembled the night before and transferred in the morning from the fridge to the oven.
- Butter or nonstick cooking spray, for greasing the baking dish
- 4 cups milk (see Note)
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, plus more maple syrup for serving (optional)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt
- 1 large loaf challah bread, preferably slightly stale, sliced 3⁄4 to 1 inch thick
- 3⁄4 cup whole raisins, chopped dried fruit, or chopped nuts (optional)
- Fresh fruit such as berries, sliced peaches or pears, and/or confectioners’ sugar, for serving
1. Grease a 13 by 9–inch baking dish with butter or spray it with cooking spray.
2. Place the milk, eggs, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-size bowl and whisk to mix well. Set the milk mixture aside.
3. Arrange half of the slices of bread in the prepared baking dish, cutting the bread so that it fits in a solid layer. Pour half of the milk mixture over the bread, then evenly distribute about half of any dried fruit or nuts, if using, on top.
4. Repeat, creating a second layer of bread and then pouring the rest of the milk mixture on top and distributing the rest of the fruit or nuts over the bread. Lightly press the bread down into the liquid.
5. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. The bread will have absorbed almost all of the milk mixture. Uncover the baking dish and if there are dryer looking pieces on top, take them off and carefully tuck them underneath the bread on the bottom so that the more milk-soaked pieces are now on top (this is messy but it all works out in the baking). Note that any dried fruit sitting on the top of the French toast will get pretty chewy when baked and nuts on top will get toasty; the fruit and nuts that are tucked into the French toast will be softer, so disperse the fruit and nuts as you see fit.
6. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
7. Bake the French toast, uncovered, until it is puffed and golden, 30 to 35 minutes.
8. Let the French toast sit for 5 minutes to firm up a bit, then cut it into squares and serve it hot with your choice of maple syrup, fresh fruit, and/or confectioners’ sugar.
Note: This is luxurious made with whole milk, but 2 percent or 1 percent milk works fine. Conversely, for an even more decadent dish you can replace one of the cups of milk with a cup of cream or half-and-half if you like.