French Toast Casserole

French Toast Casserole with cinnamon sugar topping is soft and fluffy on the inside, and golden brown on top. Make it overnight and bake in the morning, or you can prepare it in the morning. Even more delicious than French toast!

For the casserole:
1 large loaf good-quality French loaf, sourdough, ciabatta, or challah (enough to yield 10 cups of chunks of bread)
1/2 cup (45g) chopped pecans
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
Zest from one medium orange (optional)
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons (40g) dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Optional toppings for serving:
Dried cranberries
Powdered sugar
Maple syrup

1 Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Place an oven rack in the center position.
2 Slice the bread into 1-inch slices and then cut them into 1-inch cubes. You can also tear the bread apart with your hands. Leave the crusts on.
French Toast Casserole
3 Layer the bread and pecans in a baking dish: Lightly grease a 2-quart (if you want thicker slices) or 3-quart baking dish (if you want thinner slices) with cooking spray or butter. Add enough bread cubes to cover the bottom. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of pecans on top. Continue layering the bread chunks and pecans.

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