A lover of butter myself, I've always admired Paula Deen's ability to toss several pounds of the churned milkfat into any recipe. Looking for a lavish breakfast idea to feed a larger crowd, I knew her praline-topped French toast casserole wouldn't disappoint. If you're willing to throw your cardiac health into a pit of writhing snakes or something equally as sinister, this casserole is easy to make and perfect for a crowd.
First things first - the butter. At first, I balked at the idea of using two sticks of butter in their entirety for the praline topping. A girl's got her limits. However, with anything less than two sticks, the topping wouldn't have melted together as efficiently in the oven to form a perfectly crisp yet chewy praline crust. The butter also soaks into the bread underneath to give the already custard-soaked toast the taste of pure love.
The texture of the casserole is everything you'd want from traditional French toast; crunchy edges and a soft, pillowy middle. While the recipe didn't call for it, I also added almond extract, and the flavor complemented the praline topping while adding a little zip to the custard. Beware, however, that this recipe, while almost dummy-proof, needs to be made at least 12 hours before baking. This overnight soak leaves the thick-sliced French bread super soggy and prepped for the 45-minute stay in the 350 degree oven.
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If you want to serve it sans syrup, just add one or two extra tablespoons of sugar to the custard mixture and you're good, but stay away from adding extra butter - Paula's already got that one covered.