Sunday, April 18, 2010

Upside Down Baked Challah French Toast

Challah french toast bakes above a caramelized brown sugar sauce with pecans, cranberries, and apples which, once the entire dish is inverted, becomes a sinfully delicious french toast topping.  No, this recipe isn't healthy, but, I would view it as a special brunch treat to serve for a special occasion or celebration. One benefit to this recipe is that it finishes in the oven which allows you to finish prepping and cooking before your brunch guests arrive. I have to warn you, flipping the baking dish over before serving can be a bit messy. After a few trials I found that the faster you can flip it, the better. Also, letting the dish rest a few minutes out of the oven beforehand is also useful.

Upside Down Baked Challah French Toast
Serves 6

6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 loaf challah bread cut into 1 inch-thick slices
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3 Granny Smith apples peeled, cored, quartered and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries

-Preheat oven to 350° F.

-In a flat dish, whisk eggs and add milk, vanilla extract and cinnamon until well combined. Lay challah slices in mixture to coat and absorb it all, turning occasionally. (You may have to do this in sets, depending on the dish you use).

-Set a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. (Note: if the skillet it oven safe there is no need to use a 9x13 dish later in the recipe, simply bake the french toast in the skillet). Add the butter and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and caramelizes, about 10 minutes.

-Remove from heat and gently whisk in the heavy cream. (Note: Do not the sugar mixture cool.) Transfer the caramelized sugar to a preheated 9x13 pyrex baking dish. Sprinkle in the pecans, dried cranberries and evenly line the pan with the apple slices. Lay soaked slices of challah over the top so it is completely covered - you should be able to arrange the large slices and small slices so there are no gaps. Sprinkle the top with some brown sugar and place into the oven. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and puffy. When done, allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes then invert onto a large plate or cutting board with a drip ring.

Adapted from Tyler Florence's Upside-Down Apple French Toast with Cranberries and Pecans 2008

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