Bread of the Week: Uncle John Calvin's French Toast Casserole

If I know the Internet--and I like to think I do--someone will 'shop a chef's hat onto this picture. This week's recipe is not a muffin, but it's still a great breakfast food (or lunch food, or dinner food).

When I was new in ministry, a friend said she liked to use leftover communion bread to make bread pudding. It's not often I get to bring home the bread after a worship service, but that's what I like to do too. More specifically, I like to make french toast casserole, recipe below.

In a discussion on Facebook it seems that the Catholics and Episcopalians are a bit squicked out theologically by the body of Christ, mixed with egg and milk and baked. With all respect to my transubstantiating brothers and sisters, I say, ¡Viva la reformación! 

Incidentally, the Presbyterian Book of Order requires that you dispose of leftover bread "in a manner consistent with the Reformed understanding of the Sacrament and the principles of good stewardship." As I put the dish together last night, I thought about our Longest Night service, and the many prayers that were spoken and unspoken around that loaf. That counts, does it not?

Uncle John Calvin's French Toast Casserole

Feel free to adjust the recipe based on how much bread you have. This morning's casserole was made in a 11x7 and baked for about 40 minutes.

Ingredients

  • leftover communion bread, or a loaf of challah or other firm bread
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or to taste
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • maple syrup, for serving

Instructions

  1. Grease a 13- by 9-inch glass baking dish with softened butter or cooking spray.
  2. Slice or tear the bread into 1-inch pieces.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Arrange half the bread in a single layer in the prepared dish, then sprinkle half the sugar mixture evenly over the top. Add a second layer with the remaining bread and the sugar mixture.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the milk and vanilla extract, whisking until well blended.
  6. Starting from the sides of the dish and working toward the center, pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread. With a spatula, gently press down on the bread to coat it with the egg mixture. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.
  7. Heat the oven to 350°. Bake the casserole covered for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole turns a light golden brown and looks slightly puffed, about 30 minutes more.
  8. Serve the casserole warm with maple syrup. Give thanks for the spiritual presence of Christ.