French Toast Bread Pudding is the most magical of all brunch recipes. With a beautifully caramelized outer crust and a soft, sweet, gently spiced interior, this will truly blow your mind.
Have you ever been in a restaurant and tasted something so incredibly good that you just couldn't leave without finding out how it was made?
Sometimes I'm only curious about the cooking technique or about the ingredients -- but there was one occasion when I was desperate to know everything.
I was at a cozy B & B in northern California, with a very small dining room and an even smaller kitchen.
The chef was very kind and chatted with me long enough to give me a rough idea of the ingredients and cooking technique. I wrote everything down the second I had the chance.
I recreated it and call it French Toast Bread Pudding.
I've been making this recipe for about twenty years, and it's never fails to be the biggest hit at any brunch.
It's exactly what it sounds like -- a combination of your favorite French toast and your favorite bread pudding.
How to Make French Toast Bread Pudding
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and grease a 10-inch bundt pan, or a 10 x 3 or 4-inch cake pan.
- If the bread you're using has a tough crust, remove it. Then cut the slices in half or fourths.
- In a large saucepan, whisk the eggs with the milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, until it's blended. Now heat it, and let it warm only enough to dissolve the sugar.
Below are the different stages of what this mixture will look like as it's whisked. The 4th image is right after it's been warmed. It will never be 100% blended, but should be a smooth consistency.- Melt the oil and butter together in a large sauté pan.
- Dredge each slice of bread into the oil-butter mixture, coating one side only.
- Line the bottom of the greased pan with one layer of the bread, greased side down, tearing the bread into any sizes and shapes necessary to better fit the pan.
- Pour enough of the egg mixture to cover the layer of bread. Bake this until the egg mixture appears solid.
- Dredge each of the remaining bread slices into the egg mixture and add them to the cake pan, greased side down. Between each layer, drizzle with about ½ cup of the egg mixture and a sprinkling of the chocolate.
Below are the different stages of the layering process for making this amazing French Toast dish.
- Pour in any of the remaining egg mixture that the pan will hold, adding it little by little.
- Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for about 1¼ hours.
- Let it rest for about 15 minutes. Then, go around the sides of it with the dull side of a small knife, to make sure it isn't stuck. Invert it onto a large platter.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
- As you're layering the bread, break the bread into any shapes and sizes necessary to fill all of the crevices.
- The recipe calls for chocolate chips, but you can also use raisins, currants, or any combination thereof.
- French toast bread pudding rises quite a bit above the top of the pan. That's okay! It'll fall down as it cools.
- If you have any trouble releasing it onto a plate or platter, leave it upside down for a while in the pan. If it's still not coming out, run a kitchen towel under very hot water, wring it out, and place this on top of the inverted pan. Leave it for a few minutes and try again.
- You can use gluten-free bread if you'd like. I've used Canyon Bakehouse's Seven Grain & Cinnamon Raisin gluten-free breads for this, and the result was delicious!
- Try it with Brioche, Challah, Croissants, or your favorite raisin bread!
Can it be made ahead?
While French Toast Bread Pudding can be made ahead, it's best when baked the same day that you're planning to serve it. You can however, make the egg mixture and prepare the bread the day before.
Can you use leftover French toast to make this recipe?
Great question, but unfortunately not. The key to the success of this recipe is all in the technique.
I hope you adore this French Toast Bread Pudding as much as my family and I do!
More unique French toast recipes:
French Toast Bread Pudding
- 2 pounds (about 2 loaves) of your favorite soft sliced bread (see notes)
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 9 large eggs
- 1½ cups low-fat milk
- 1½ cups half and half
- 1¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil like vegetable)
- ¾ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips (see notes)
- Set oven and prep pan. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a 10-inch bundt pan, or a 10 x 3 or 4-inch cake pan. Grease the pan very well!
- Prep bread. If the bread has a thick crust, use a serrated knife to cut it off. If it's a soft, thin crust, there's no need to. Then cut the slices in half or fourths.
- Make milk mixture. In a large saucepan, whisk the eggs with the milk, half and half, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt, until it's blended. Place the pan over medium-low heat and let it warm only enough to dissolve the sugar, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Make bottom layer of pudding. Add the oil and butter to a large sauté pan, and over low heat, let the butter melt. Stir to blend.Dredge each slice of bread into the oil-butter mixture, coating one side only, and placing them on a baking sheet as you go.Line the bottom of the greased pan with one layer of the bread, greased side down. When necessary, tear the bread into different sized pieces to better fit the curves of the pan -- and use smaller pieces to fit in any little crevices.Then pour just enough of the egg mixture to cover the layer of bread. Bake just this portion in the preheated 400°F oven, until the egg mixture appears solid, about 10 minutes.
- Continue assembling/layering. Now, gently dredge each of the remaining bread slices into the egg mixture and add them to the cake pan, greased side down, filling all possible crevices. Between each layer, drizzle with about ½ cup of the egg mixture and a sprinkling of the chocolate. Also, gently press down on the bread layers with the back of a large spoon or your hands as you go.Once you’ve filled the pan almost to the top, carefully pour in any of the remaining egg mixture that the pan will hold. Pour in just a little bit at a time and let it sink in, then a add a bit more, and so on. You should see the liquid rise to the top of all of the bread layers.
- Bake. Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet, as it will likely overflow. Bake in the 400°F oven for about 1¼ hours. It will rise out of the pan (like a soufflé), and will be uneven. Check on it after about 45 minutes, and periodically there after. It's done when it no longer jiggles and is golden brown. If the top seems like it’s getting too dark before it's done, cover it with foil for the remaining cooking time.
- Rest, invert, slice and serve. Once you’ve removed the pan form the oven, let it rest for about 15 minutes. Then, go around the sides of it with the dull side of a small knife, to make sure it isn't stuck. Invert it onto a large platter.
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