Baked french toast meets baklava - challah bread soaked in cinnamon honey custard, topped with a spiced walnut crumble, and finished with a drizzle of warm honey syrup to truly baklavize it. Best of all, like most oven french toast, you can make the majority of this version the night before. —Sarah | Wisconsin from Scratch
loaf challah bread, sliced into 1” thick slices
If your bread is not already stale, lay the sliced challah in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until they crisp up slightly. Or, if you plan ahead, you can leave the bread slices lying out on your kitchen counter overnight to help speed up the staling process.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish, and arrange bread slices in overlapping rows in the dish.
Whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, ¼ cup honey, 1 tsp cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour over bread in pan, making sure all of the bread is well coated (it helps to push down on the bread with a spatula to help it soak up more of the custard). Cover pan tightly with foil, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
After french toast has had time to chill and soak, remove from the fridge, and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
While oven heats, prepare the walnut crumble by combining the walnuts, butter, brown sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and salt in a food processor and pulsing until nuts are coarsely chopped (about 20-30 seconds).
Sprinkle walnut crumble mixture evenly atop the soaked bread, re-cover tightly with the foil, and place in the oven. Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake until top is golden brown and walnuts are toasty - about 25 minutes more.
While french toast bakes, prepare the syrup. Combine the remaining ¾ cup honey, water, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the cloves and cinnamon stick before serving. (hint: if you’re planning on a super lovely, lazy morning, you can make the syrup the night before, refrigerate it, and just re-warm in before serving).
When french toast has finished baking, remove from oven, cool slightly, then serve hot topped with honey syrup.