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stuffed strawberry french toast bake

STRAWBERRY STUFFED FRENCH TOAST BAKE with Strawberry Orange Sauce

Thick slices of French bread are stuffed with cinnamon cream cheese and sweet strawberries and baked into a fluffy casserole.  My Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake is sprinkled with a crunchy Pecan Streusel and Sparkling Sugar Topping.

And then, to make this dish even more delectable, it’s served with a sweet and tangy Strawberry Orange Sauce.  I know you may be thinking that you can skip the sauce… BUT DON’T even consider it! 

This is a fruit sauce that’s actually cooked in the oven.  You’ll roast the fruits at a high heat with brown sugar, water and my secret ingredient.  Orange Juice Concentrate!

It packs a powerful punch of citrus flavor that makes this sauce absolutely incredible.  In fact, the hubby loved it so much I caught him trying to eat the leftovers with a spoon!

 

stuffed strawberry french toast bake

 

HOSTESS HELPER – Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake is a MAKE AHEAD Dish

As with many breakfast casseroles, this Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight.  That gives plenty of time for the milk and egg base to soak into the thick slices of bread.

The casserole is composed of individual “sandwiches” filled with a lovely cinnamon cream cheese and fresh strawberry slices.

assembly process for french toast bake

I used to fry these in a skillet to a buttery brown, but it took too long for my family.  They didn’t like taking turns, and who can blame them! 

Then I figured that it could also be made as a “French toast bake”, and that made everyone happy, including the cook!

 

SINCE YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT THE DAY BEFORE, WHY NOT…

While I was a professional caterer, I became obsessed with twisting and turning recipes to make “party worthy” fare for my clients.  But I’ve found that retirement has not changed my need to fancy-up a recipe, even if it’s for breakfast.  

strawberry stuffed french toast bake

That’s why I decided to create a sauce that would take my Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake over the top. I wanted it to have intense fruity flavors, so roasting the fruits was the way to go.

But if the casserole is baking at 350°F, how would I roast the fruit for the sauce?

That’s why I want you to make the sauce the day before and let it bake while you make and assemble the casserole.  The oven will do its thing, and you’ll do yours.

 

strawberry orange sauce

By the time you’re finished with the casserole, the fruit and sugar will have baked down into a syrupy, luscious mixture ready for pureeing. 

Now your Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake is in the refrigerator and the accompanying sauce is too! 

You’ll find the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

 

BROWN SUGAR AND CAYENNE BACON – Here’s What I Serve With It!

brown sugar and cayenne bacon

Thick slices of smoky bacon are baked into a chewy and savory delight that’s both sweet and spicy, all at the same time.  Coated in brown sugar and sprinkled with cayenne, these sassy strips are no ordinary breakfast meat!

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE:  BROWN SUGAR AND CAYENNE BACON

 

I’ve got the timing for this fabulous morning repast down perfectly… 

  • I preheat the oven and take the Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake and Strawberry Orange Sauce out of the refrigerator.
  • Then I prep the bacon on my foil-lined broiler pan and pop it in the oven.
  • While the bacon is cooking, I place the sauce into a small saucepan to be ready for heating. 
  • Now it’s time to make the Pecan Streusel and sprinkle it on top of the French toast bake.

pecan streusel on top of french toast bake

  • When the bacon is done, I reduce the oven’s heat to 350°F and cover the bacon with foil to keep warm.
  • It’s time to get the casserole in the oven and set the table.
  • About 15 minutes before the Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake is done, I sprinkle on a nice layer of Sparkling Sugar and let it finish cooking.
  • The sauce is ready to be set over a low heat to warm.  If the sauce is too thick, loosen it with some orange juice until it reaches the proper consistency.  
  • Breakfast or Brunch is now ready to serve!

 

serving french toast bake for brunch

I really hope you decide to make one or both of these fabulous breakfasty-brunch recipes while strawberries are plentiful.  Grab up a couple baskets of juicy, ripe berries the next time you’re at the farmer’s market.

You’ll be thanking me with every fork full of this amazing Stuffed Strawberry French Toast Bake with Strawberry Orange Sauce. And don’t forget the Brown Sugar and Cayenne Bacon!

 

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strawberry stuffed french toast bake

Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake

Yield: 6-8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 13 hours 35 minutes

Thick slices of French bread are stuffed with a layer of cinnamon cream cheese and sweet strawberries and baked into a fluffy casserole topped with a Pecan Streusel. Then to make this dish even more delectable, it's served with a sweet and tangy Strawberry Orange Sauce.

Ingredients

  • CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE STUFFING
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE BASE
  • Loaf of French bread
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced
  • CINNAMON PECAN STRUESEL
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces (cold from refrigerator)
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped
  • STRAWBERRY ORANGE SAUCE
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Large orange, sliced and seeded (toss stem end)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp. orange juice concentrate (thawed)
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • SPARKLING SUGAR
  • Fresh strawberries for garnishing if desired

Instructions


Day Before Serving Instructions

STRAWBERRY ORANGE SAUCE

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large glass baking dish, add the berries and sugar, tossing to coat berries. Add the orange slices.
  2. Combine the water and orange juice concentrate in a small bowl and stir to combine. Pour over fruit and sugar mixture.
  3. Place in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a thick syrup has formed and is bubbling. Start checking after 20 minutes or so just in case, as sugar burns very easily.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Scrape out of pan with a rubber spatula into the bowl of your food processor while it's still warm and liquified. Add butter cut into small pieces and add to fruit.
  5. Process mixture with pulses until all the large pieces of orange are broken down. Continue processing on medium speed until mixture is thick and smooth.
  6. Place in a tightly covered container and refrigerate until needed.
  7. Serve warm with Strawberry Stuffed French Toast Bake.


CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE

  1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until completely blended. (I used my hand mixer to ensure it was smooth)
  2. Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to assemble casserole.

FRENCH TOAST BASE & ASSEMBLY

  1. Cut French bread into thick slices, making sure to match up each pair as you cut them. (since you're making "sandwiches" from a loaf that's tapered, you want pair each one with the slice that's cut next)
  2. Combine the eggs, half & half, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a blender or large bowl. Blend or whisk mixture until it's completely combined with no streaks of egg.
  3. Lightly grease a 9" x 13" baking dish. Fit each "pair" of slices into casserole, making sure they're snug. I could fit 7 pairs into my casserole dish.
  4. Remove cream cheese mixture from refrigerator. Take off the top slice of each "sandwich" and place it outside the pan, making sure you keep the pairs together. (or place layer of berries on the bottom slices and spread cheese mixture on top layer and continue with instructions- I couldn't because it wouldn't make good pictures!)
  5. Divide the cream cheese mixture between all the bottom slices of bread inside the pan. (I lifted them out one-by-one to keep the layout intact)
  6. Top the cream cheese with a layer of sliced berries and replace the top slices. Lightly press down each pair to help keep sandwiches together.
  7. Pour milk and egg mixture over top of each slice, making sure to evenly moisten the bread. Use all of the milk mixture.
  8. Cover casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.

Day of Serving Casserole

STREUSEL TOPPING AND BAKING

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove casserole from refrigerator and uncover.
  2. In a medium bowl add the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt, stirring well to combine.
  3. Add butter, scattering it over top of flour mixture. Quickly mix the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips or a wire pastry blender until it becomes a crumbly mixture.
  4. Evenly distribute the streusel topping over casserole. Sprinkle pecans over top of streusel.
  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle LOTS of SPARKLING SUGAR over top of casserole and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Check the casserole and remove when it's puffed up and just jiggly in the center. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving with Strawberry Orange Sauce. Garnish with fresh berries if desired.

Notes

Strawberry Orange Sauce should be made the day before serving and reheated before serving. If the sauce is too thick, loosen with a little orange juice while heating over low heat.

Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 980Total Fat 44gSaturated Fat 19gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 285mgCarbohydrates 129gFiber 6gSugar 82gProtein 23g

Quantities and calorie counts may vary with ingredients used and pan size.

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