Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Bake

Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Bake

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Faith Durand
May 7, 2015
(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

We all need our breakfast staples — eggs, avocado toast, oatmeal. But when the work week is over and the weekend rolls around, it's time to get serious. It's time for brunch.

While I love a good omelet and other savory brunch dishes, my heart belongs to the sweet ones, like this cinnamon roll breakfast bake. What's that in the middle you spy? Why, a layer of cinnamon-spiked cream cheese between layers of sweet, eggy bread. This is one for sharing, folks.

(Image credit: Kimberley Hasselbrink)

This is a total winner of a breakfast casserole, sweet and rich, with flaky layers of bread and creamy cinnamon-flavored cream cheese sandwiched together.

It's just as good as a tray of hot cinnamon rolls, and while it's not an everyday dish, it is definitely the one to pull out for a holiday morning or when company comes for brunch.

Tester's Notes

It's hard to resist bread soaked in cinnamon custard, but what really takes this over the top is the layer of cream cheese filling in the middle! I love that unlike a strata or bread pudding, where you have to spend a lot of time cutting up the bread, just cutting a loaf into slices does the trick.

If you are having a hard time finding unsliced white bread like I did, challah or brioche would also be great substitutes for this dish!

Christine, May 2015

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Bake

Serves 6 to 8

1 12- to 16-ounce loaf day-old unsliced white bread, cut in half lengthwise and then into thin slices

For custard:

5 large eggs
2 1/4 cups 2% or whole milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt

For cinnamon cream cheese filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter or nonstick spray. Layer half of the bread slices in the baking dish, overlapping and wedging them in tightly so they are in an almost solid layer.

To make the custard, whisk the eggs until fully beaten, then whisk in the milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour half of this custard over the bread in the baking dish, letting it settle in and soak the bread thoroughly. Set aside the rest of the custard.

To make the filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the softened cream cheese with the butter, egg, cinnamon, and sugar. Beat until very soft and whipped. Drop in dollops, then spread roughly over the layer of bread and custard in the pan. Layer the rest of the bread over the cream cheese filling and pour the rest of the custard on top. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)

Sprinkle with extra cinnamon. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the bake is firmly set and the top is lightly browned and crispy. Cool for 15 minutes before serving in thick slices, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe adapted and reprinted with permission from Not Your Mother's Casseroles by Faith Durand (Harvard Common Press, 2010)

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