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Kitchen Mailbox: French Toast recipes are prepared the night before for easy breakfast

Thursday, December 07, 2000

By Arlene Burnett

Get a head start on breakfast -- prepare it the night before.

Cooking term
of the week

Dutch oven -- A large pot or kettle, with a tight-fitting lid, usually used for braising and stewing.

If making breakfast on an average day is difficult, it's almost impossible during the holidays.

That's why we thought this would be the perfect time to feature recipes for Overnight French Toast. You prepare them the night before and in the morning you pop the dish in the oven, and in an hour or so, you have a delicious hot breakfast.

If you're a fan of blueberries, you're going to love Blueberry French Toast with blueberry sauce. This dish has chunks of cream cheese combined with blueberries and egg custard. The simple but fruity blueberry sauce completes this dish. We also have a recipe for Overnight French Toast without the blueberries.

Up next is another French toast made with fruit. This recipe has the usual overnight soaking of bread in an egg batter. What's different about Overnight French Toast with Fruit is that in the morning you add frozen strawberries and fresh bananas to the bread and egg. When you remove this dish from the oven, you'll have toasted bread with scrumptious strawberries and bananas soaking in a fruit syrup.

If you don't like your French toast hidden underneath custard and fruit, you might try the next recipe called -- surprise -- Overnight French Toast. The bread bakes to a golden brown in a custard that's flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.

The last recipe is the only one cooked on top of the range rather than baked in the oven. Orange French Toast is full of citrus flavor because the bread is soaked overnight in a mixture of cream, egg and orange juice.

The next day the bread is fried in a large skillet or griddle. To make this French toast even more tasty, it's served with an orange syrup.

By the way, we tested all the recipes on the same day (someone has to do it). We loved them all and couldn't decide which was our favorite -- we're going to have to try them again.

Dolores Conner of O'Hara told us this recipe won a grand prize award from Taste of Home magazine.

Blueberry French Toast

12 slices day-old white bread, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
12 eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (we used honey)

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon butter

Place half of the bread cubes in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch dish. Place cream cheese over bread. Top with berries and remaining bread. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and syrup or honey; mix well. Pour over bread mixture. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 25 to 30 minutes longer or until golden brown and center is set.

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch; add water. Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in blueberries; reduce heat. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until berries have burst. Stir in butter. Serve over French toast. Makes 13/4 cups sauce, 6 to 8 servings.

Loretta Stahurski of Elizabeth Township sent a similar recipe as above -- minus the blueberries and sauce. The only differences are some of the ingredient amounts:

8 slices white bead (instead of 12),
3/4 cup maple syrup (instead of 1/3)

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Follow directions above.

Loretta's recipe may be served with additional syrup.

The recipe from Josie Turchick of McMurray doesn't call for syrup of any kind -- it's not needed because this dish is heavenly on its own.

Overnight French Toast

1 loaf French bread
5 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
20-ounce bag frozen whole strawberries (about 2 1/2 cups)
4 ripe sliced bananas
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice Cinnamon sugar to taste

Cut French bread into 8 thick slices. Combine eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla. Pour over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, combine frozen whole strawberries, sliced bananas, sugar and apple pie spice. Put in greased baking dish (we used a 9-by-13-inch) and top with prepared bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake in 450-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Note: Make sure all the bread is coated with the egg mixture -- take a wooden spoon and press down on each slice of bread until the slices are completely covered.

Doreen Elsesser of Ingram serves her French Toast Casserole with strawberry or blueberry sauce or freshly made whipped cream.

French Toast Casserole

1 10-ounce French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Use 2 tablespoons of the butter to coat a 9-by-13-inch pan. Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients. Cut bread into 1-inch slices. Arrange in pan. Pour egg mixture over bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Dot with the rest of the butter. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Kay Warheit of Penn Hills sent Kitchen Mailbox her recipe for Orange French Toast.

Orange French Toast

6 eggs
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 loaf French or Italian bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick (we used French bread)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup orange juice plus 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
Powdered sugar
Toasted almonds

In a small bowl, beat eggs and vanilla. Beat in half-and-half. Place a single layer of bread in a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Pour egg mixture over the bread, coating evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet (to save time we used a griddle). Place soaked bread slices in skillet, over medium-high heat. Brown both sides -- repeat with remaining slices. Serve with Orange Syrup. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and powdered sugar. Serves 4 to 6.

Orange Syrup

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Mix all ingredients in a saucepan; simmer over low heat 5 minutes.

Serve warm with French toast. Makes 1 cup.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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