I have made this for Christmas morning breakfast for way over 20 years....in fact I think it might be 24 or 25 years. Back in the 80's when I lived in San Francisco...long before we had kids.
This is a recipe adapted from one by Bradley Ogden. I saw it first in Food and Wine Magazine. It is rich and decadent and I only make it once a year...but it is lovely to make for any special breakfast or brunch.
In fact I think it would be fine way to ring in the New Year...I usually serve this with bacon or breakfast sausage...but this Christmas morning we had it with some beautiful fresh berries and warm real maple syrup...and a nice cup of strong, freshly brewed, French Roast coffee.
This recipe was also named one of the most popular recipes in Food and Wine Magazine a few years ago. It has withstood the test of time in my home...except when they re-printed the recipe in the magazine they cut back on the butter a little bit from one stick to 6 Tablespoons...I am sticking with the stick as the original called for! Hey it is once a year after all.
Please remember to read my notes at the end of this post...I have made the dish according to the original recipe and it is delicious...but I like it better with the changes I have made over the years. One change I made in recent years was to prepare the casserole the night before and park it in the fridge. Then in the morning I take it out and let it sit on the counter for a little bit to come to room temperature before I place it in the oven.
Cinnamon Bread Custard with Fresh Berries
adapted from Bradley Ogden
16 slices of cinnamon-raisin bread (See Note)
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Fresh berries and maple syrup, for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Brush both sides of each bread slice with some of the butter and arrange in rows in a buttered 9-by-12-inch baking dish. (I shingle the bread into the casserole) 2. In a large bowl, beat together the whole eggs and egg yolks. Whisk in the granulated sugar, milk, cream and vanilla. Strain the custard over the bread slices, making sure that each piece is evenly moistened.
3. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan and pour in enough warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the custard is set. Transfer the baking dish to a rack and let stand for about 15 minutes.(see my notes on this step)
4. Cut into squares, sift confectioners' sugar over the top and serve with the berries.
Note: Packaged, sliced cinnamon-raisin bread works just fine in this recipe, but a sliced bakery-fresh loaf will make it even better.
My notes: I have a raisin hater here in my house so I use Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Bread...no raisins. I have also made this with thick cut bakery white bread. You could also use Brioche or challah and in that case add a bit of cinnamon to the custard. While this is really delicious baked in the water bath...I do not do that any longer. I just place directly into the oven and bake. We like it to brown and it puffs up and looks lovely. The 25 minute baking time is not long enough either way for me, the custard is just too loose at that time IMHO. I bake it until it is puffed and the custard has set...more like 45 minutes to an hour...I insert a skewer into the middle to check for doneness. I think you should begin checking at about 30 minutes . Everyone's oven is different....
I can not tell you how many people I have given this recipe to. It has become a holiday tradition for many of my friends and their families now....if there are any leftovers it is lovely reheated in the microwave the next day. I hope you will try this and enjoy it as much as we do...