Overnight Caramel French Toast
Adapted from this Food Network recipe
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 loaf of Challah or egg bread, cut into 1-inch slices (no heels)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup half and half
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of 1 small orange
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter with the brown sugar, stirring frequently until the sugar has melted and a smooth liquid has formed. Pour the caramel into a 13x9 baking dish.
2. Cut the crust off the bread slices and arranged them in one layer over the caramel sauce, squeezing to fit them in as necessary. (The whole caramel layer should be covered.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, orange zest, and salt until combined well. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours and up to one day.
4. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the French toast in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. Serve hot or warm.
Note: You should never put a cold baking dish in a hot oven because the sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack. I share this technique, with the caveat that I can't guarantee its safety: Remove the plastic wrap and place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees, and bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until puffed and edges are golden. My theory is that the glass warms as the oven warms, but I won't be responsible for any messes in your oven - only mine!