I recently hosted a brunch that needed to be kosher and include a few dairy free offerings. I made my very first challah from scratch to serve that day and I must say it came out great! I can definitely use some practice and improve my technique, but I was so pleased with my results.
Even though I was serving freshly baked challah, I also wanted to do a challah french toast. I toyed with the idea of making individual french toast on the fly to serve fresh and hot. Even this introverted chef likes to play hostess and interact with my guests, so I quickly nixed that idea.
Then I thought a baked french toast would be easier and everyone could still choose a slice or two for themselves. That felt easy enough, but then my bestie Ina came to my inspiration rescue with challah french toast bread pudding. That was a fun recipe because it ballooned up so huge in the oven and deflated after a few minutes out.
I played around with the ratios (not a bad few weeks of taste testing) and came up with this dairy free challah french toast casserole you see here. I wanted something that was not too wet but still moist.
I like how this version has a bit of crunch on the top layer, too. If you want no crunch and more moist, just use a little less challah. A standard loaf is 16 ounces, but you can go all the way down to 10 ounces of challah cubes to increase the moistness. Serve with maple syrup if you like, but I actually think this french toast casserole is sweet enough on its own.
- 1 (453 grams) challah loaf
- 6 large eggs
- 1 14-fluid-ounce can full fat coconut milk
- 70 grams (1/3 cup) light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- Cut the challah into slices and allow to sit uncovered at room temperature overnight. Tear the bread into about 1-inch cubes and spread evenly in a 9 x 11 baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. The coconut milk with have a few lumps if it cool, but that is okay. They will melt away during baking.
- Let the dish sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes, to allow the challah to soak up the egg mixture. Or cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350F, and bake until the center of the french toast casserole no longer looks wet or jiggly, about 45-50 minutes.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately. The french toast casserole will deflate a bit as it cools.