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.
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.