This is how you do French toast during prime pumpkin season (aka right now!). It's a sweet, seasonal breakfast casserole for a crowd and powerful enough to win over the most ardent pumpkin spice critic. Thick cubes of buttery brioche are soaked overnight and infused with rich custard packed with warm spices and a double dose of pumpkin. Then it's dotted with a crunchy brown sugar and pecan streusel that takes it over the top. Amazing, right?
The Best French Toast Casserole Is Made in Advance
This casserole is best when prepared the day before serving, then left in the fridge overnight to soak. All that's required come morning is to pop the baking dish in the oven and wait to dig in. Soaking overnight guarantees the cubes of bread soak up the spiced custard for a French toast casserole that's tender throughout the center with a puffed golden crust.
This is amazing for breakfast, but add a scoop of ice cream — pumpkin spice ice cream, if you're a true devotee — and no one will think twice about calling it dessert.
Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
- For the casserole:
day-old loaf brioche (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
pumpkin pie spice
Powdered sugar (optional)
Maple syrup, for serving (optional)
- For the crumb topping:
packed brown sugar
(1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Make the casserole: Generously coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter. Place the bread cubes evenly in the dish and set aside.
Place the eggs in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Whisk in the half-and-half, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, and salt. Evenly pour the custard over the bread. Use a spoon to push the bread down and stir so all the cubes are soaked through. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature while the oven is heating. Meanwhile, make the crumb topping.
Make the crumb topping: Stir the flour, sugar, pecans, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in a medium bowl. Drizzle with the butter and stir until big, slightly floury crumbs form.
Sprinkle the crumb topping over the casserole. Bake uncovered until the casserole is set, puffed, and the top is golden-brown, 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven and let it cool for at least 5 minutes. Right before serving, dust with powdered sugar if desired. Serve warm with maple syrup if desired.
Make ahead: The casserole can be assembled up to 1 day in advance, covered, and stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.