Brioche French Toast Casserole with Pecans

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Recipe by Sur La Table Chef Barbara Snow

This make-ahead breakfast treat couldn't be easier to prepare. Just assemble the night before and pop it into the oven about an hour before you sit down to eat. For an even more festive dish, add 1/2 cup dried cranberries to the egg mixture.

Yield: 8 servings.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 loaf (about 1-1/2 pounds) brioche or challah, cut into 1-1/2-inch thick slices
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Maple syrup, for serving

In a 13x9x2-inch baking dish, combine the melted butter and brown sugar. Arrange bread slices in the dish, overlapping as needed to fit.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Pour egg mixture over the bread slices, allowing bread to absorb mixture. Top with pecans. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a rack in the center. Allow the chilled casserole to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.

Bake casserole until browned and set, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool slightly.

To serve, sift powdered sugar over the casserole. Cut into serving pieces and place on warmed plates. Serve immediately with maple syrup on the side.