I love a good make-ahead breakfast.
Especially when it’s buttery soft French toast that tastes a lot like soft gingerbread and molasses cookies.
This is my last holiday-related recipe. While I don’t usually miss certain foods and flavors because as a blogger all I need to do is blink and it’s back to pink pastel things for Easter or an abundance of apple and pumpkin recipes in the fall, I will miss being able to blog at will about molasses and ginger.
However, that won’t stop me from making things with those flavors for personal consumption, but you don’t want to hear about them in July.
This year I’ve made Soft Molasses Coconut Oil Crinkle Cookies, Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Molasses Chocolate Chip Bars, Gingerbread Pancakes with Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup, and even Gingerbread Cookie Dough Peanut Butter (GF).
I thought I’d sneak in one last molasses and ginger-themed recipe. It just happens to be perfect for cold winter mornings, lazy weekend mornings, or as an easy, make-ahead Christmas morning breakfast.
You can assemble it and keep it in the fridge for up to 24 hours in advance, which is so nice if you have a gathering or company coming. One less thing to worry about the day-of is a nice gift to yourself.
Plus anything that I can bake, and not have to flip one at a time on the stovetop like pancakes, is a big bonus.
To make it, slice your bread and arrange it in the pan in three rows, overlapping some. It was a tight squeeze to get it all into the pan when dry, but after marinating, it softens and you can reposition it easily if necessary.
I used most of one long cylinder of fresh French bread because I didn’t plan ahead enough to use day old. Plus, I have mixed feelings about day old bread. It’s just too hard and crusty for me, but use what you like.
Make the marinade by whisking together melted butter, eggs, milk, sugars, maple syrup, molasses, and a ton of spices.
I love boldly flavored recipes, full of spice and shazam, and it’s mandatory for me when working with things in the pumpkin, carrot cake, ginger, or molasses families.
Without using ample spices, foods in those categories taste blah and lackluster, but if you’re more sensitive to cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves, you may consider reducing, or even halving, the given amount.
Pour the marinade over the bread slowly and evenly, separating the overlapping parts with your fingers so as much of the bread is coated as possible. It looks like a lot of liquid, and it is, but the bread is thirsty and drinks up quite nicely overnight.
The next morning, carefully spoon any pooled liquid at the bottom of the pan over the top of the bread, redistributing it and re-drenching any white patches or dry looking places.
Baking times will vary greatly because bread dryness levels vary greatly. Because I used fresh bread, I had a fair amount of unabsorbed and pooled liquid, and things were pretty juicy going into the oven.
The maple syrup, sugars, and butter caramelize in the oven, providing flavor and chewiness. Because of the sugars and syrup, watch your toast closely so it doesn’t burn.
The French toast is firm and chewy on the outside, with a soft, tender, and squishy interior. It doesn’t get as crispy as pan-fried French toast, and stays softer all the way around.
The warming spices provide so much rich, wintery, cozy flavors, and in conjunction with the dark molasses, this is some seriously flavorful French toast.
And then I flooded it with Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup, adding even more robust gingery-molasses intensity.
Sniff. I’m going to miss blogging about molasses and ginger recipes.
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Overnight Gingerbread French Toast Breakfast Bake
- 1 long loaf French bread, sliced about 3/4-inch thick, about 24 slices (I used fresh, but 1 or 2-day old is fine)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted (half of 1 stick)
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup milk, optionally use 3/4 cup if your bread is old or very crusty/hard
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup light, medium, or dark molasses (not blackstrap, too bitter)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, or to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon ground cloves, or to taste
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- confectioners’ sugar for dusting, optional
- Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup or regular maple syrup, for serving
- Line an 8-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray.
- Add the sliced bread in 3 rows of about 8 slices per row, slightly overlapping. It will be a tight fit to get 3 rows in when bread is dry, but softens as it marinates and you can rearrange it with ease, if necessary, after time has passed; set pan aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute (or use browned butter). Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don’t scramble the eggs or curdle the milk.
- Add the next 10 ingredients, through optional salt, and whisk to combine. I used the full amount of spices listed, but if you’re more sensitive to spices, reduce them to taste, possibly halving all amounts.
- Slowly and evenly pour mixture over the bread, gently separating the slices with your fingers, and pour marinade between the slices. It will seem like a lot and it is, but most soaks in overnight.
- Cover pan with foil to prevent fridge smells, and place in fridge for at least 4 hours, but overnight (or up to 24 hours) is better.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F and remove pan from fridge while oven preheats.
- The next morning, carefully spoon any pooled liquid at the bottom of the pan over the top of the bread, redistributing it and re-drenching any white patches or dry looking places.
- Bake for about 20 to 35 minutes, or until done. Baking times will vary greatly based on how much liquid did or didn’t soak into your bread, how firm or soft bread was to begin with, personal preference for doneness, oven and climate variances, etc. I baked for 28 minutes in my very hot-running oven; my bread was very soft and fresh, and it was very juicy before baking. I didn’t need to, but if you feel like your bread is crisping up or browning a bit too quickly, tent with a sheet of foil laid over the top.
- Optionally, dust with confectioners’ sugar, and serve with butter and syrup, or your favorite French toast toppings, i.e. fruit or jam. French toast is best fresh, but extra will keep airtight for up to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the micro before serving.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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Soft Molasses Coconut Oil Crinkle Cookies – No butter used and you’ll never miss it. The best soft molasses cookies I’ve had
Molasses Triple Chocolate Cookies – Chocolate is used three times for a fun twist on the traditional. No mixer required
Soft Batch Dark Brown Sugar Coconut Oil Cookies – No butter used and you’ll never miss it. The best soft molasses cookies I’ve had
Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Molasses Chocolate Chip Bars – One of the best things I made all year. Like eating gingerbread-molasses fudge. Indescribably wondeful
What’s the best gingerbread or molasses thing you’ve eaten this winter?