Every good cook should have a no-fail brunch recipe up their sleeves, and I personally consider the "French toast" casserole to be the holy grail of weekend entertaining. Just in time for a Mother's Day debut, this decadent combination of Bonne Maman Four Fruit Preserves and buttery croissants — baked up in a gorgeous Le Creuset skillet — is the newest recipe to take top honors at my breakfast table.
While I am quite content raiding the refrigerator for breakfast (leftover pizza, anyone?), I happen to be the minority in my house. It's just too bad that slinging made-to-order meals off the griddle isn't always my idea of Saturday morning fun. Thankfully this recipe is the best of both worlds — it rolls everyone's beloved breakfast flavors into one easy-to-assemble, easy-to-serve dish. What else could I ask for?
I've sampled enough breakfast casseroles over the years to know the difference from the good and the great, and honestly this one transcends them all. Quality bread is the foundation of a superior breakfast casserole, and oh-so-buttery croissants put all the rest of them to shame. (Maple syrup doesn't hurt, either.)
Of course the mix-ins also matter, and luckily there are a few tricks to add texture and color to prevent what might otherwise become a big "pan of mush." A scattering of fresh berries lends bright pops of pink, while a ruby-hued streak of Bonne Maman Four Fruit Preserves swirls through each nook and cranny, providing a burst of sweetness in each and every bite. A handful of chopped pecans brings a welcome crunch, rounding out the perfectly decadent (and perfectly delicious) dish.
The best part about this recipe is that it is always company ready. All I have to do is toss the ingredients into my beautiful palm-colored Le Creuset cast iron skillet. Not only does the casserole bake up perfectly every time, but it looks even better on the table than it does in the oven. How's that for ease?
If you're serving this festive dish as part of a Mother's Day brunch, you don't need much to complete the meal; a platter of thick-cut bacon and a bowl of berries is (more than!) enough to impress. Add a mimosa bar complete with freshly-squeezed juices and your favorite Prosecco for a celebratory touch, and don't forget the pot of French press.
As the ultimate gift, send the guest of honor home with a heirloom-worthy Le Creuset skillet of her very own, a few jars of Bonne Maman Four Fruit Preserves, and a handwritten copy of this new favorite recipe. I guarantee it will be a Mother's day to remember.
Skillet French Toast & Preserves Casserole
3 cups whole milk
8 large egg yolks
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup Bonne Maman Four Fruit Preserves
8 croissants, torn into rustic 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup raspberries
Confectioner's sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine the milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until frothy. Heat the preserves in a small saucepan until warm and pourable, 1 to 2 minutes.
Arrange half of the croissant pieces in the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart cast iron skillet (I used Le Creuset) and drizzle with half of the warm preserves. Pour half of the egg mixture over the croissants. Repeat with remaining croissant pieces, preserves, and egg mixture. Lightly press the croissants with a spoon to help saturate with liquid, but do not submerge completely. Set aside for 20 - 30 minutes before baking.
Sprinkle the casserole with pecans and raspberries. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and continue cooking until puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before serving; garnish with confectioner's sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enter for your chance to win an exclusive culinary weekend to the Le Creuset L'Atelier in Charleston, SC, plus 2,000 other prizes from Bonne Maman and Le Creuset!
(Image credits: Nealey Dozier)