Many years ago I published my first cookbook, Not Your Mother's Casseroles, a collection of fresher, healthier casserole recipes. This fall my publisher and I updated the book with a revised and expanded edition, and I decided to loosen things up a bit. Not every casserole needs to be lean and vegetable-forward, after all. Because not every day is Saturday, and not every day calls for brunch.
This recipe, from the new edition of the book, is 100% a Saturday brunch casserole — toasted golden bread baked with cascades of juicy blueberries and deep, rich swirls of cream cheese.
It was the first recipe I wrote for the new edition, as the idea had been rattling around in my head for a while, and it turned out even better than I thought it would. It's an easy brunch bake, and easy to prep ahead (just refrigerate unbaked overnight and bake in the morning).
The result is a golden, toasty, not-too-sweet bread pudding with all the cheesecake flavor you desire at breakfast (which, for me, is a very respectable craving). The blueberries can be fresh in the summertime or frozen in the winter.
Don't forget the powdered sugar, and make plenty — people go crazy for this one!
Find the Book
Not Your Mother's Casseroles Revised and Expanded Edition, Faith Durand (Harvard Common Press, October 2017)
Loaded Blueberry Cheesecake Breakfast Bake
(16-ounce) loaf sliced white sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Hearty White
cream cheese, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
Juice of 1 large lemon (zest it first)
fresh blueberries, divided
Finely grated zest of 1 large lemon
Heat the broiler to high. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. Place the bread slices evenly on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until golden-brown, flipping to toast both sides, about 1 minute on each side. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Tear the bread into rough bite-sized pieces. Place half the bread in the baking dish in an even layer; set aside.
Place the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Use a spoon or an electric hand mixer to whip until smooth. Drop this mixture in spoonfuls over the bread. Scatter about half of the blueberries over the bread. Top with the remaining torn bread and remaining blueberries.
Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until beaten. Add the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and whisk to combine. Pour over the bread. Use your hands or the back of a spatula to gently press the bread down so it is mostly submerged in the custard.
Bake uncovered until golden on top, 45 to 50 minutes. A knife inserted in the middle should come out clean, not eggy. Let cool for 5 minutes, then dust liberally with powdered sugar before serving.
Make ahead: After the casserole is assembled, it can be covered and refrigerated. Refrigeration will produce a softer result, with a more uniform texture — more like a bread pudding.
Storage: Leftovers can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Reprinted from Not Your Mother's Casseroles Revised and Expanded Edition by Faith Durand (Harvard Common Press, October 2017).