Monday, April 29, 2013

Apple Spice Baked French Toast

This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity, from running errands all day Friday to spending Sunday with our church's Adventurer Club at the state-wide annual Fun Day. Last year before Fun Day, we made a quick stop at a fast food chain to grab breakfast on the fly -- I hadn't planned very well that morning ;-). Well, I've turned over a new leaf this year and wanted to make sure that my children weren't fueled by a package of deep-fried tater-tots and deep-fried french toast sticks. I whipped up this apple spice baked french toast based on a recipe for pumpkin streusel baked french toast by Two Peas and Their Pod. I've thoroughly enjoyed every recipe I've tried from their blog (veganized, of course!)

This french toast is more of a casserole and is wonderful if you are short on time. I make it the night before and either bake it that night to reheat in the morning for a super-fast meal or bake it in the morning while I am getting ready for the day. Either way, it's very tasty. 

You'll want to use a whole grain or whole wheat baguette or other crusty bread for this to turn out well. 

1/2 of a long whole wheat baguette
6 Tb. chia gel or 3 Tb. flax gel
1 1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup apple butter (made by cooking applesauce down until a thick spreadable consistency - like a thick puree)
1/4 cup brown or natural granulated sugar
1 Tb. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
pinch ground allspice
1/2 a Fuji or other apple of choice, peeled and diced
1/4 cup Craisins or dried tart cherries

Streusel Topping
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or a mix of white and whole wheat)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon or cardamom
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (opt.)
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup margarine, cut into pieces

Spray a 2-qrt. glass casserole dish with cooking spray. Tear or cut baguette into large bite size pieces and arrange evenly in the pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine milk, chia or flax, apple butter, sugar, vanilla, spices and diced apple. Whisk to thoroughly incorporate. Pour evenly over bread pieces and press bread down a bit into the milk mixture. Sprinkle dried cranberries or cherries over the french toast.  Cover casserole with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. {Usually allow overnight or several hours for the bread to absorb the liquid.}

In a small bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, walnuts, salt and cinnamon or cardamom. Cut in margarine pieces with your fingers or a fork until the mixture looks like small peas. Pour streusel into a plastic baggy and store in fridge.

When ready to bake the french toast, preheat oven to 365 F. Remove casserole and streusel from refrigerator. Spread crumb topping evenly over french toast and bake for 55-60 minutes until casserole is set and crunchy golden brown on top. 

Serve with vegetarian sausage or tofu scramble for a amazing breakfast. 

Yield: 6 large pieces

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