This is a great way to use up any less-than-fresh bread you might have lying around. Stale bread is perfect for bread pudding since it will help the bread keep its texture in the dish and not turn to mush. —Sarah | Wisconsin from Scratch
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is for people who like their breakfast savory and who like their strata more bready than eggy. What elevates it beyond the usual breakfast casserole is the tang provided by the sourdough bread and balsamic vinegar and the subtle kick from red pepper flakes. The egg, milk, and cream cheese give it just enough creaminess. When I first made the strata I thought it was going to be too dry but it was perfect—so good paired with sparkling water as a comforting, interesting lunch. It also comes together quickly! I "staled" the bread in the oven and used a 10 oz. loaf rather than 1 pound, which worked out fine. The tange from the red pepper flakes and balsamic vinegar were enough to make it interesting for me, but not so noticeable my kids (8,6,4) rejected it. The strata is not super-colorful or festive-looking, so I baked it in my red Emile Henry baking dish to make it look more festive. You could also add a few extra tomatoes on top to make it look more Christmas-y. Also, keep in mind this makes enough only for a square baking dish, so double it if you're hosting a holiday crowd. —ReneeL
good sourdough, cut into about 1 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups
milk, heated until almost boiling
slices bacon, chopped
garlic cloves, minced
cherry tomatoes, halved
crushed red pepper flakes
cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
cream cheese, at room temp, cut into small pieces
If your bread is not already stale, lay the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until they crisp up slightly. Or, if you plan ahead, you can leave the bread cubes lying out on your kitchen counter overnight to help speed up the staling process.
Place stale bread cubes in a large bowl and pour the warm milk over them. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until most of the milk has been absorbed by the bread, about 10-15 minutes.
While bread is soaking, cook bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are just beginning to crisp up.
Add the garlic, scalllions, tomatoes, and red pepper flakes to the pan, and continue to cook until the tomatoes soften and start to burst, about 5 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and cook 1 minute more.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, and pepper. Add to the bread mixture, along with 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, stirring well to combine.
Spread half of the bread mixture into a greased 8x8 casserole dish and top with the tomato-bacon mixture, followed by an even layer of cream cheese pieces. Cover with the remaining bread mixture and top everything with the remaining 1/2 cup grated parmesan.
Bake strata until puffed and golden, about 45 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.