Listen to episode 40 to learn how to make an easy gluten-free french toast casserole, guaranteed to please all! A moist egg custard mixes together in minutes and is poured over a variety gluten-free bread options with optional cream cheese filling. This make-ahead dish can be refrigerated overnight, frozen, or baked the same day. Join Melissa, gluten-free cookbook author, as she shares many easy, pro tips to make this audio recipe for gluten-free french toast so the interior stays moist while the sweet crust is perfectly golden and crisp.
Recipes and Resources Mentioned
- Gluten-Free French Toast Casserole
- Soft Gluten-Free Bread
- Gluten-Free French Bread
- Gluten-Free Challah
These are the ingredients I recommend if making your own homemade gluten-free bread. If buying store bought bread, I like Canyon Bakehouse or Schar. You will need 1 1/2 pounds of bread, or 12-13 cups.
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Hey everyone, I’m Melissa Erdelac, host of the Gluten Free Recipe Challenge podcast and creator behind the gluten free website Mamagourmand. Here we take beloved recipes you thought you never enjoy again and transform them into easy copycat versions just as good as the originals.
Just a little heads up. I can get quite passionate about gluten-free baking, which may come out in some colorful language. If this offends you, I might not be your cup of tea. If you are intrigued, but sensitive ears are around, put some headphones on and let’s do this.
Okay, I need to set up this week’s recipe a little, and to do that, you’re going to have to endure a quick vent. If that’s going to cramp your holiday vibe, go ahead and skip 30 seconds.
So, Christmas. Every year, I do get better and better at not doing this to myself. But, here’s a 30 day glimpse, behind the scenes, for a typical household CEO.
First, Dream up hundreds of perfect gifts for a hundred different people. Secure all those gifts using the optimal and most cost efficient combination of coupon codes and flash sale days and free shipping discounts and agreeable return policies. And then do it all again when your parents and your in laws need to know what to buy for every human in your family.
Then Remember, all the people you forgot to buy for in the first round and frantically buy their gifts. Intermittently, knock out your insane list of must make baked goods, and then close out the season with two days of elaborate meals for holiday guests and parties. But don’t forget Christmas morning. You’ll need to provide a decadent feast where you gaslight everyone into thinking that you are relaxed and joyful and completely present in the moment.
Sorry, was that a little jaded?
I did it just because it’s my setup for how I’m going to help a fellow CEO out. I got your back all day on Christmas morning in the form of a little gem called Overnight French Toast Casserole with operative descriptors being Make Ahead, freezer friendly and freaking delicious.
Also, as an added bonus, this recipe is simple enough that it can just be handed off to someone else to take care of. Absolutely no culinary experience is required. Hand them the recipe and then leave the kitchen.
So let’s talk about some key ingredients. First, the gluten free bread. Okay, this is an asterisk. If you’re handing this recipe to someone else, I recommend just tell them to buy some gluten free bread. If this is something you want to pull off yourself? I personally love and use my soft gluten free bread recipe, and you can make that at any point and freeze it. And hell, you could even make it two days ahead of time and let it sit on the counter and dry out. It doesn’t matter because once it’s mixed with eggs it brings it back to life.
Some other options are, I have a recipe for gluten free French bread on the website, gluten free challah, or you could use gluten free sourdough, whatever you want. You will just need one and a half pounds of bread, which equals about 12 to 13 cups of bread cubes. For the eggs, you need six large eggs and then plus one egg yolk. The added egg yolk helps bind the ingredients together more. Otherwise, if you just added six eggs, it didn’t have enough moisture. If you added seven eggs, it was too much liquid and it kind of all fell apart.
The key is large eggs. If your eggs are too big or their size medium, you’ll have to adjust the recipe by adding or reducing by one. For the milk, I use whole milk for best results, but if you need to do a dairy free recipe, use something with a higher fat content, such as coconut milk.
However, You could substitute unsweetened almond milk or whatever non dairy milk of your choice, too. I add orange zest, but if this is going to take you over the edge, or if whoever you’re handing this recipe to is going to have zero idea of how to zest an orange, just leave it out. I have added it and not added it, depending if I had an orange in my fridge, but it does add a nice hint of citrus flavor and I recommend it if you have it on hand.
This recipe, you could do it two ways. You could add the cream cheese filling or if that’s extra prep is just going to take you over the edge. Also something you can just set aside and leave out. I’ve done it both ways.
And then lastly, I want to talk about the sugar. I use brown sugar for it, but the amount of sugar may be increased or decreased, depending on your personal preference.
Personally, I find that typical French toast casseroles are overly sweet, so I only use a half a cup of sugar in this recipe, and it’s still sweet enough that you don’t have to, like, put maple syrup on it, but isn’t sickening sugary for breakfast. However, I would never stand in your way of extra sugar.
Okay, let’s make the recipe. So first you’re going to need a 9 by 13 baking dish, and then just grease that. If you’re doing the cream cheese filling, in a medium bowl, beat together eight ounces of softened cream cheese, three tablespoons of powdered sugar, and a half a teaspoon of vanilla until it’s smooth and creamy, and then just set that aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the six eggs, the egg yolk, two cups of milk, a half a cup of brown sugar, two teaspoons of vanilla, your optional orange zest, three fourths teaspoon of cinnamon, and an eighth a teaspoon of salt.
So most recipes have you put the bread down in the casserole dish and then pour the egg mixture over. That works fine for non gluten free recipes. It doesn’t work so well for gluten free recipes that really need that moisture. The better method to do that is you mix the liquids together in a large bowl then add the bread cubes to that, and then just stir it to combine.
That way, all the bread is coated in the egg mixture and it makes such a big difference. If you’re not doing the cream cheese filling, just pour all the bread cubes in your prepared pan. If you’re doing the cream cheese filling, pour half the bread cubes. cubes in the pan. Spread it out evenly and then just dollop the cream cheese over top and then top it with the other half of the bread.
Okay, the last part of the recipe is I mix together this like butter sugar topping and brush it over the top. So you just need to combine four tablespoons of melted butter, three tablespoons of brown sugar, and a half a teaspoon of cinnamon. To get it evenly over the top you could use a pastry brush and brush it on. Otherwise, just take a small spoon and then drizzle it over the top.
Okay, here’s your options. First of all, you have to let this sit a little bit. The least amount, you cover it and refrigerate it for two hours. Or, you can cover it and refrigerate it up to 24 hours ahead. If you need to store it longer, Then you could also freeze it at this point, which I have done and works well.
However, if you freeze it, taking it out of the freezer and putting it in the fridge just overnight isn’t enough time to let it thaw. I recommend taking it out 24 hours before you’re going to bake it to give it plenty of time to thaw in the refrigerator. Then when you’re ready to bake it, remove all the coverings and just place in the oven for 45 to 55 minutes.
You notice the top is becoming too brown before the casserole is cooked through. You could loosely tent foil over the top for like the last 15 minutes. And to check if it’s done I just put a knife in the middle to make sure it’s really hot and you don’t see excess liquid. There will still be a little bit of liquid but if it’s really hot it’s fine. You let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving, and as it sits, that liquid absorbs into the bread.
So that’s it for the basic recipe, but you also have some options if you want to, like, juz it up a little bit. You can add chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips, uh, raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries.
After you dollop on the cream cheese filling, you could also add a little bit of jam, too. You could add nuts, such as pecans and walnuts. Uh, also, I’ve done berries. I don’t recommend frozen berries because they will add more liquid as it’s baked, but fresh is fine. And also, I have froze this with fresh berries, and then baked it after thawing, and that did not add liquid. So if you’re going to add berries before freezing it, just make sure it’s fresh.
You could turn this into a savory casserole. I would omit the brown sugar and cinnamon and then add any combination of like chopped ham, cooked bacon or sausage.
You could do cheese or sauteed veggies like peppers or onions. Or you could give yourself a little present and add a litte booze to the mixture. To the milk you could add two to three tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Irish cream or amaretto or Kahlua or brandy would be good as well.
To find this full recipe and print it off and give it to someone else, go to the show notes page and to get to that just click on the link provided in whatever podcast app you’re listening on, or you could go to my recipe website, which is mamgourmamd.Com and click on the podcast tab.