Monday, December 27, 2010

Cinnamon Bread Custard with Fresh Berries....

I have made this for Christmas morning breakfast for way over 20 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
6-8 Servings

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
Confectioners' sugar
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 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...


  1. Linda.. we make almost the same thing..and mine was from BA..or Gourmet i think.. The title was a Weekend at The Shore..I make mine the night ahead.. and bake 1 hr also! Your bread sounds way better than my plain baguette..and I love the addition of your beautiful fruits..Mine just has pecans and blueberries..

    Just gorgeous..I make it once a year too:)
    I have to add your photos are SUPERB:)

  2. We love this, too! Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Decadent and lovely, and you said the magic words "French Roast" my favorite.

  4. Linda, I first made this on Christmas Day last year and my family requested it again this year. Now, it's become a tradition for us too. Thank you for another lovely recipe. Your blog is just beautiful...Happy New Year!

  5. Thank you my friends! Monique(((hugs)))!!!!!!
    The new camera has been challenging and fun the past few days....I am loving it.

    I am so glad you like this recipe...
    It is a winner for the time i first made this the breakfast casserole thing was not as big as it is now. It was so new and different for me. Back in the stone age mid-80'

    Love to you all....and best wishes for a very happy and healthy New Year!

  6. Wish I'd been making this for 25 years. Maybe I can start a new tradition.

  7. Sounds like a good plan Linda!

  8. Ohhh, Linda! Not only does this look and sound good, it's incredibly photogenic as well. You have fun with your new toy, dear! I know we will be seeing more and more good stuff coming from you. So glad you have that baby in your hands! :) well deserved!

  9. ((((HUGS JU!)))))

    I must say I am loving it! Now I just need to find a pocket of time to really get into it and get everything else done that needs doing!