I'm posting this as both a recipe for Super-Simple Overnight French Toast to share on Gayle's Recipe Swap over at Grocery Cart Challenge, and also as an aid in using up the last bit of bread in your home! There are lots of great recipes over at Gayle's, so after you've left me a comment, be sure and pop over there for a visit! ;-)
I don't know about you, but I always have bread in the house. We have store-bought bread for sandwiches, the sourdough DH sometimes brings home from the restaurant for us, my homemade breads (usually some sourdough and/or some wonderful cinnamon-raisin), and quickbreads from various dinners. And I used to end up tossing some of that bread when it got hard and old, or when it accidentally became a science experiment (yuck!!). And I ALWAYS used to toss out the heel ends, because who eats those?
Well, no more, my friends! I now use every bit of that bread, and I've not had any green fuzzies in my kitchen for some time now. Wait...I have to take that back. My darling hubby did once stick the cheddar cheese block in the CABINET rather than the refrigerator for some inexplicable reason. That was an unbelievable mess when I finally found it a few weeks later!!!
To start, I'm going to share what my kids and I had for breakfast this morning. I can't share a photo, as every bit of it was gone in a flash! Last night before I went to bed, I quickly assembled breakfast for this morning, using up the last of a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread I had made in the bread machine for a breakfast earlier this week. A little less than half the loaf was left. I cut it into thick slices, then into triangles, to make Super-Simple Overnight French Toast. Here's how:
Overnight French Toast
Leftover bread - can be sliced thinly or thickly, torn into pieces, or cut into large cubes (enough to fill a 13" x 9" pan, one flavor/type or several)
About 1 3/4 c. milk
2 t. vanilla
1/4 c. sugar if not using sweet bread
Place your bread in a greased 13" x 9" pan. Break eggs into a 2 cup measure and whisk quickly with a fork. Add vanilla and sugar if using, then fill with milk to the 2 cup line. Whisk it all together with the fork. Pour this mixture over the entire surface of the bread. Some will remain in the bottom of the pan - this is fine. Sprinkle cinnamon over the top. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, remove pan from refrigerator and preheat oven. Bake, uncovered, at 375°, for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot, with butter and syrup.
The cinnamon raisin bread I used for this morning made absolutely wonderful French Toast. It was devoured! I have used both homemade bread and the store-purchased variety, both with great results. As the bread is just what's left and might otherwise be discarded, this is a VERY frugal breakfast!!
Now, let's talk about those bread "heels" and the last couple slices of the loaf that have been sitting on your counter for awhile. You might feel a little hesitant at using these for French Toast, so what do you do with them? We're going to borrow a fabulous idea from my friend Tammy that has saved my dinner more than once! Whenever you have those ends that you know won't be eaten, stash them in a bag in your freezer. And those last few pieces that are too old/dry to make a sandwich (or that you don't want to put in your French Toast)? Put them in the bag, too! You're going to make your own bread crumbs!!!!
Once you have enough bread pieces (store-bought, homemade, whatever) in the bag to fill a cookie sheet or two, pick an evening and lay those bread pieces out on the cookie sheet. Place them in an oven that is preheated to 200° and "bake" for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Now, just turn off the oven and go to bed! The next morning, remove them from the oven and use a blender or salad shooter or whatever you have handy (a cheese grater would work, but would be tedious!!) to chop the bread into tiny breadcrumbs. Put these in a bag and store in the freezer. Use just as you would packaged bread crumbs. When I used these to make oven-fried chicken, my family agreed it was the best ever. And the first time I had done this, I planned a meal involving bread crumbs, thinking I had a cannister in the cabinet. I panicked when I couldn't find that cannister, but then remembered my freezer bag and dinner was fine!
Another thing I've done with this bread is cut it into cubes and apply the same principal, only I baked them 2 hours and then removed them from the oven. This made the bread cubes for my Thanksgiving stuffing, and I've also used them as great low-fat croutons. If desired, you can even toss them with a little oil and seasonings to make seasoned croutons. Good stuff from otherwise discarded bread!!
One thing you will notice with me is that my recipes are generally a little vague on amounts and ingredients. I am not a precise cook, and I love flexibility. I don't tend to measure much, and it always turns out fine. Cooking should be at least a little bit fun, and I like to give myself some "wiggle room" to experiment and adjust things to taste. I hope that works well for you! :-)