Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole

Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-22Brunch parties are often overlooked and under appreciated. Why do dinner parties get all the glory and praise? Brunch menus are so much easier to cook and most people love breakfast foods. It’s so awesome to relax during the early part of the day with your guests, enjoying a different type of meal than the usual dinner fare.

Part of the reason we don’t have brunches more often is that most people don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to start cooking. I’ve got the perfect recipe that you can prep the night before and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. French Toast is a favorite with many people, and making it into a casserole makes it so much easier to serve for a party or for those days when you want as little work as possible in the morning.

When I shared my recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding this Christmas, I knew that I would have to also share this version of bread pudding, which is my all time favorite. Part of the casserole is creamy and custardy, and has a crunchy, sweet topping. Flavored with cinnamon, vanilla and lemon zest, this casserole also adds in other breakfast stars – blueberries and cream cheese. Who’s excited about hosting a brunch? Or serve this to your family, while getting your beauty sleep on the weekend, and still soaking in all their compliments for treating them to such a feast.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of challah bread (14 – 16 oz), cut into 3/4 – 1 inch cubes

5 cups half n half (half milk and half heavy cream)

8 large egg yolks

1/2 – 3/4 cup granulated sugar

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 pint blueberries

1/2 – 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional

1/2 -1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 Tablespoons butter, melted, divided

Topping:

1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-3/4 cup slivered almonds

2 -4 Tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions:

Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-13Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the bread into ¾ – 1 inch cubes. Divide the bread between two rimmed baking sheets. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-14Dry the bread cubes in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through and tossing the cubes. Take out of the oven and set aside.

It’s important to use dry bread for bread pudding, so that it soaks up the custard well.

While the bread cubes are in the oven, brush a 13 x 9 inch rimmed baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.

In a large bowl, whisk the half n half, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until evenly combined. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-15You can also use almond extract, which will complement the slivered almonds really nicely.

I used 1/2 cup of sugar, but I don’t like things to be sweet, plus, I prefer to have this French Toast Casserole with maple syrup. You might want to add more sugar, 3/4 or even 1 cup total. Keep in mind that the cream cheese, the bread and the blueberries are not sweetened at all.

It’s easiest to cut the cream cheese when it’s very cold, so keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to cut it. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-16Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cream cheese and half of the blueberries. You can add the cinnamon and the lemon zest right to the custard or sprinkle it on top of the bread. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-17Repeat with the second half of the bread cubes, then the cream cheese and blueberries. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-18Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-19Brush the top of the bread cubes with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter.

You can bake the bread pudding after letting it soak for about 30 minutes, or cover it up and refrigerate it overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you stored the bread pudding in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes before placing it into a hot oven.

Combine the topping ingredients – cinnamon, almonds and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it on top of the bread pudding. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-20Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes. The center of the bread pudding should be 170-180 degrees. Let the bread pudding stand for about 10-15 minutes before serving. Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-21Serve with Maple Syrup or honey.Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-22

Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole-1-23

Blueberry, Cream Cheese and Almond French Toast Casserole
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf of challah bread (14 - 16 oz), cut into ¾ - 1 inch cubes
  • 5 cups half n half (half milk and half heavy cream)
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • ½ - ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon lemon zest, optional
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted, divided
Topping:
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½-3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 -4 Tablespoons brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the bread into ¾ - 1 inch cubes. Divide the bread between two rimmed baking sheets. Dry the bread cubes in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through and tossing the cubes. Take out of the oven and set aside.
  3. It's important to use dry bread for bread pudding, so that it soaks up the custard well.
  4. While the bread cubes are in the oven, brush a 13 x 9 inch rimmed baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the half n half, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract until evenly combined. You can also use almond extract, which will complement the slivered almonds really nicely. I used ½ cup of sugar, but I don’t like things to be sweet, plus, I prefer to have this French Toast Casserole with maple syrup. You might want to add more sugar, ¾ or even 1 cup total. Keep in mind that the cream cheese, the bread and the blueberries are not sweetened at all.
  6. It’s easiest to cut the cream cheese when it’s very cold, so keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to cut it.
  7. Place half of the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cream cheese and half of the blueberries. You can add the cinnamon and the lemon zest right to the custard or sprinkle it on top of the bread.
  8. Repeat with the second half of the bread cubes, then the cream cheese and blueberries.
  9. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes.
  10. Brush the top of the bread cubes with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. You can bake the bread pudding after letting it soak for about 30 minutes, or cover it up and refrigerate it overnight.
  11. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you stored the bread pudding in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature for about 30 minutes before placing it into a hot oven.
  12. Combine the topping ingredients - cinnamon, almonds and brown sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle it on top of the bread pudding.
  13. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-55 minutes. The center of the bread pudding should be 170-180 degrees. Let the bread pudding stand for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
  14. Serve with Maple Syrup or honey.

33 Comments

  • Anna

    This looks incredible! I love french toast but when you add cream cheese and blueberries it’a just super!
    Going to try this weekend!

    happymedley.blogspot.com

  • Inna

    This looks and sounds incredible! I’ve been craving French toast this pregnancy and this is like a cherry on top! Can’t wait to try it!

  • Mila

    A very nice recipe, I would love to serve it to my guests. I have been wanting to host brunch, but it just doesn’t fit well in our schedule. And a lot of our friends’ families as well. There are various kids activities and such that typically take place in the morning. It is especially hard for parents with little kids (sleepless nights are not very conducive to a late morning gathering). But I am not giving up on the idea yet:)

    • olgak7

      I can completely understand, Mila. There are different seasons in life. Maybe when your children are a little older? Besides, you can definitely serve this as a dessert for dinner.

    • olgak7

      Thank you, Olga. The casserole dish I bought at Home Goods and the serving spoon is actually a spatula that I’ve had for years and have no idea where I got it.

    • olgak7

      That’s great, Masha. I hope you enjoyed it.
      The best results are when it’s served right after baking, but it does reheat ok too. It’s pretty much the same as leftover French Toast.

  • Dina

    Hi Olga,
    My girlfriends came over for breakfast this morning and I made this casserole and cheesy egg puffs and both of the recipes were a success!
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes!

  • Alena

    I made this for the first time for a family cabin trip. It was AMAZING!! I adored the flavors. Thanks for a great recipe!

    -Alena

    • olgak7

      Egg whites will give the casserole an “eggy” flavor. If you use only egg yolks, the casserole/bread pudding has a really custardy and smooth flavor. It’s up to you. I prefer to use only egg yolks. You can make meringue frosting, baked meringue cookie, angel food cake, macarons, etc. with the egg whites. The way I look at, if I don’t end up using the egg whites in anything else, I will only be wasting approximately $0.60:).

  • Alina T

    Hi Olga,
    I have never made bread pudding before so don’t really know what the texture is like… I’m wondering if fresh raspberries would work here. They are softer than blueberries so maybe they’ll get too soggy? Have you ever tried it? Thanks 🙂

    • olgak7

      The texture of bread pudding is like french toast that is very custardy. I hope you enjoy it. I think raspberries will work great here. They will get a bit soggy, but as long as you serve the french toast the same day, it should be just fine. Anytime you bake with raspberries they get softer, just like most other berries, so I think that’s just fine:).

  • Tzivia

    Mmmmm wow yummm French toast with cream cheese love it tho am wondering if this would work with strawberries or peaches only cuz I’m allergic to blueberries love that this can be made in advance will hafta try one day gurl thanx tons for posting

      • Tzivia

        Oh really that’s gr8 2 know Olga darlin thanx tons will definitely hafta try this sometime mmmm maybe I’ll make this sat night and then just pop it in the oven the next day Sunday perfect

  • Tanya

    I got up this morning at 4:30, just so I could bake this for my kids before they went to school. It was a big hit!! Thank you for the recipe!!

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