Bake

Baked Challah French Toast

February 17, 2022
4.7 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

Rich, eggy challah makes an ideal base for French toast. Here, the Jewish delicatessen breakfast icon gets scaled up to feed a crowd. Topped with fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup, the sweet strata makes a gorgeous centerpiece for any brunch gathering.

This recipe is part of a gorgeous Jewish deli breakfast spread. —Leah Koenig

Test Kitchen Notes

This French toast recipe is part of our Jewish deli breakfast spread, but you can make it any time the craving for French toast strikes, which, for us, is quite often. No fancy ingredients or equipment are required, plus you can put it all together a day ahead of time for a wonderful treat the morning of. All you have to do is whisk the eggs, milk, cream, brown sugar, and spices together, then pour over the bread pieces. It can then hang in the fridge for as little or as long as you'd like. With a drizzling of melted butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar right before it goes in the oven, you'll get all the favorite, traditional flavors of a hearty, soul-warming French toast. Finally, make it look beautiful with a dusting of powdered sugar and a topping of fresh berries.

You can also customize the egg mixture with whatever you've got on hand and to suit your particular tastes. One reviewer left out the spices and used chocolate chips instead. Another didn't have nutmeg, so increasing the cinnamon did the trick. And yet another noted that they used all whole milk, and no cream, and it didn't seem to affect the final dish (though we'd never say no to the addition of cream). If you want to reheat, cover the dish tightly with foil and reheat in a warm oven until the desired temperature is reached. It's so good, you'll find yourself reaching for this recipe every time you feel a hearty slice of French toast is the best way to start your day. —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Baked Challah French Toast
  • Prep time 48 hours
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (1-pound) challah loaf, crust on, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Maple syrup, powdered sugar, and fresh berries, for serving
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Lightly grease a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer the challah pieces in the dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, the salt, and nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
  3. Heat the oven to 375°F and remove the dish from the fridge. In a small bowl, stir the granulated sugar with the remaining 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Drizzle the butter evenly over the bread, then sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until puffed and deep golden brown.
  4. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with maple syrup, a dusting of powdered sugar, and a topping of fresh berries.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mark Meyer
    Mark Meyer
  • Jocelyn Grayson
    Jocelyn Grayson
  • Leah Koenig
    Leah Koenig
  • Steph29
    Steph29
Leah is the author of Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today's Kitchen (Chronicle, 2015)

20 Reviews

Steph29 April 16, 2022
Wow, that was so good. I kind of followed the instructions but had to tweak with what I had. I used sour cream instead of double and 2% milk (all lactose free), I used only coconut sugar and added ground cardamom (both in the wet Ingredients and the brown sugar topping) instead of nutmeg. It was insanely delicious and super easy to make. Great recipe, thanks!
 
WisconsinIT November 2, 2021
This is the best French Toast and/or challah French Toast ever. Simply followed the recipe exactly. Excellent. Will make it for company.
 
Jane225 October 4, 2021
Made this over the weekend for a bachelorette party and had to modify some things based on ingredient availability, but it came out amazing and was a huge crowd pleaser! (in case you are interested in the variation it's as follows -- upped the egg amount to 10 total; didn't have whole milk or heavy cream, so used a combo of 1 cup half and half + 2 cups 2% milk; didn't have nutmeg so upped our cinnamon context x2; didn't have vanilla extract so put in ~two tablespoons of maple syrup to the egg/milk mixture; the next morning melted 6 tablespoons butter instead of three to pour over because, why not ya know?) anyway, it was phenomenal, I imagine the original recipe is also delicious but just know some modifications will not ruin the party!
 
Marcie(Marcia M. August 8, 2021
Thank you for the recipe Leah/FOOD 52.com!
Made this for my granddaughter + leftovers went to her parents!
Left out the(yummy)spices, primarily relying on vanilla extract to flavor, customizing it appeal to her current love of choc. chips!
Added about 1/3c. semisweet chips and used a 3c. combo of whole milk and 1%.
Was DEVINE!!! Served it with a dollop of whipped cream. She LOVED it, as did our kids—her parents!!!
I can see adapting the base adding blueberries or other chips I have(strawberry yogurt chips, blueberry yogurt chips or lemon chips).
Thank you for the wonderful recipe and inspiration!
 
LeenieRN December 27, 2020
Excellent. Made this Christmas Eve and cooked Christmas morning during the opening of presents! Kids and husband loved it. Fluffy and perfect - every bite. Bread soaked up all of the liquid (no junks of scrambled eggs like some recipes). Followed recipe except omitted the nutmeg since I did not have on hand. Will make again and again!
 
[email protected] November 7, 2020
Outstanding recipe, my boyfriend and I are obsessed! Made exactly as stated except used 1.5 loaves of challah to soak up the liquid overnight. Used sliced challah for the bottom layer(s) and ripped up larger chunks from a whole loaf for the top. Worked beautifully. 10/10 will make again!
 
Claudia V. February 16, 2020
How is this recipe warmed up the next day? Still as good? It's cooking in my oven right now, but guests have had to cancel. Thinking there will be leftovers...
 
Kat February 16, 2020
I have microwaved it in a bowl with a plate on top so it doesn’t dry out, and I have also reheated it in the oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. I cover the casserole dish tightly with foil so that it doesn’t dry out as well. Both methods have come out great.
 
Claudia V. February 17, 2020
Didn't see this before my brunch this morning, but also reheated in the oven as you suggested and still tasted great! Thank you for responding- delicious dish. Will make again for sure!
 
Mark M. February 9, 2020
I’ve made this numerous times and it’s come out correct once. The recipe calls for so much milk/liquids there is a ton left in the bottom of the pan even after the bread soaks. When you put it in the oven the super soaked pieces don’t bake all the way through and the other pieces just burn.
 
DJF January 7, 2020
This was so easy and absolutely delicious! I served this for brunch and everyone asked for the recipe. Always a good sign! Followed the recipe exactly and wouldn't change a thing. Served with fresh fruit and real maple syrup. Definitely a keeper!!!
 
Karen May 8, 2019
This is so luxuriously yummy! I made it with a loaf of brioche, as that was easier to find last night, and sprinkled blueberries all over it after I put it together. It baked up beautifully today and everyone loved it. This is a keeper!
 
Jane December 24, 2018
Made this for a family brunch today and everyone loved it! I used a challah bread that was 1.25 lbs but it still worked with the amount of liquid the recipe calls for. The only thing I did differently was stir the bread mixture in the morning before adding the butter and cinnamon sugar, because the bread cubes on top were still dry. It was delicious!
 
Mjoseph May 31, 2018
Should there be leftover mixture at the bottom of the tray? Once poured in with bred?
 
Kat June 22, 2018
Yes, much of that will be absorbed as it sits, and then it’s all gone by the time it’s finished cooking.
 
CF T. May 20, 2018
If I could give this 6 stars I would!!
 
Pam W. February 14, 2018
I made 1/2 quantity of all ingredients in a 9" square baking pan; let it sit in fridge over night. This was perfect! Simple to make and really delicious. The only change I made was I used all whole milk, no cream.
 
Kat January 13, 2018
I am in LOVE with this recipe! I always make my french toast with good challah bread but this morning, I needed something quick that I could prep the night before and pop into the oven in the morning as I got my kids ready. THis recipe came to the rescue. I daresay it is better than my regular french toast, which I am known for! Going into our regular weekend brunch rotation!

Note: I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand so I substituted CoffeeMate’s French Vanilla creamer and omitted the vanilla in the recipe. Worked beautifully.
 
Author Comment
Leah K. January 13, 2018
I'm so glad you enjoyed Kat! :)
 
Jocelyn G. October 29, 2017
This was delicious and so much easier than my usual production line.