A make-ahead baked French toast casserole filled with brown sugar caramel sauce, sliced bananas, and a brown sugar crumble topping. Assemble this French toast the night before and bake it in the morning.
With Easter quickly approaching I figured now would be the time to share a fabulous make-ahead breakfast. Today I’m bringing you Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole. Sounds heavenly, right? It most definitely is. It’s a big dish of carby-sweet-caramely-goodness. Comfort food to the max.
This Brown Sugar Banana French Toast Casserole is a twist on one of my favorite recipes, Cinnamon Vanilla Baked French Toast. My family always makes French toast casserole for holidays (like Easter and Christmas) when we want a special breakfast but but don’t want to spend the whole morning in the kitchen. All the work is done the night before, so all you have to do is place the French toast in the oven and bake it.
What makes this French toast different from my other version is the addition of brown sugar caramel and bananas. A quick “caramel” sauce is made on the stove top by combining melted butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup. Sliced bananas are tossed in the sauce and then layered between cubes of bread. The whole mixture is topped with an egg and milk custard and then refrigerated overnight. Although there are a few steps, this recipe is really quite easy – and the payoff is huge!
During baking, the French toasts puffs up and turns golden brown. The bread on the inside is tender and the pieces on top get slightly crunchy. Each bite has a sweet and subtle caramel and banana flavor.
This French toast walks a fine line between being breakfast or dessert. It has a bread pudding quality that could easily help it pass for dessert. But, we’re calling it French toast so we can justify eating it for breakfast. I know you’re with me on this. Dessert for breakfast? OK, twist my arm.
To serve, you can opt to drizzle this French toast with caramel sauce or with maple syrup. I used salted caramel sauce and it was unbelievably delicious. I also topped each serving with a dollop of freshly whipped cream (indulgent much?). Remember, this is an every once in a while/special occasion breakfast. We’re not topping our breakfast with caramel sauce and whipped cream every single morning. But today we are… and we’re going to enjoy every bite.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- pinch salt
- 3 ripe-firm bananas, peeled and sliced
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup milk (preferably whole or 2%)
- 1 cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- One 15-oz loaf French bread, cut into large cubes
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
- ⅓ cup all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- To serve: maple syrup, caramel sauce, sliced bananas, chopped nuts, and/or whipped cream
- In a skillet set over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. If there are lumps in your sugar you might need to use a whisk. Once the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat and carefully stir in the bananas. Set aside and cool to room temperature while you prepare the French toast.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla.
- Grease a 2½ or 3 quart casserole dish and place half the bread cubes in the bottom. Spoon half of the banana-brown sugar mixture over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes.
- Pour the custard (egg mixture) evenly over the bread cubes. Lightly press down on the top of the bread to allow the top layer of bread to absorb some of the custard mixture. Spoon the remaining banana-brown sugar mixture over the top of the French toast. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Prepare the topping.
- Combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter, and using a spoon, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles wet, clumpy sand. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake the French toast.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove the French toast from the refrigerator (the bread will have absorbed most of the custard). Crumble the topping over the top of the French toast. Bake uncovered for 40-55 minutes, until puffed, golden brown, and set (check that the center is not too wet). Baking time will depend on how deep your casserole dish is and whether you prefer your French toast more well done. Serve immediately with syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream and/or chopped nuts. Leftovers can be refrigerated.