Where have you been all my life, baked pumpkin french toast??!!
Seriously. This is so amazing. I'm not sure how to describe it without using cliche words and phrases like "melts in your mouth," "creamy," "to die for," "I want to eat the whole pan right now" and so on. So I guess I will. The eggs, pumpkin, milk and spices transform a loaf of bread (although no ordinary loaf of bread, mind you- I employed my homemade Italian bread...and really, please don't get on my case about using Italian bread for French toast...one bite and you wont' care what nationalities are mixed up in your mouth, I promise) into this amazing soft, creamy sweet treat that (literally, cliches aside, this one's for real) melts in your mouth. Sheesh, it could practically be dessert. For us it was dinner. Then breakfast. But it could really be served as dessert and I would be crazy happy to welcome it as such.
It's also great because you can make it ahead of time (even the day before!) and just pop it in the oven when you're ready to eat!
Oh, and it doesn't really need a drizzle of maple syrup, but go ahead. You know you want to.
Baked Pumpkin French Toast
1 loaf French bread, cut into cubes
6 large eggs
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
2 TB vanilla (yes, tablespoons!)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Place bread chunks evenly in the pan.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla and spices. Pour evenly over bread. Cover pan and store in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar and spices. Add butter and cut into dry ingredients using a fork, your hands, or a pastry blender. Combine until mixture resembles sand with a few pea sized chunks. Cover and store in refrigerator.
When you're ready to bake the French toast, preheat oven to 350. Remove French toast from the refrigerator and sprinkle crumb mixture over the top. Bake 45-55 min. or until set and golden brown. Serve warm with syrup if desired.