Baked French Toast with Strawberry Compote

This morning we had the opportunity to have brunch with some great friends. Rachael and their oldest children have been friends since they were babies in the same daycare. Their teachers referred to Rachael and Will as their old married couple; even while bickering, they were inseparable. Rachael and Henna loved on each other and always chatted excitedly about the other. Whenever pictures were sent home, there they were together: The Three Musketeers. Over time, a genuine friendship developed between the parents. Not a, “We have kids the same age, so we’ll share polite chatter and terse smiles, but then move on,” kind of friendship. It’s a, “We actually share common interests, (FOOD!) and an inappropriate sense of humor,” deal.

Then one day, sadly, Will and his family moved away. It was only a few towns over, but in the DC area, it felt like it might as well have been a few states. Rachael handled it as well as anyone who had had their right arm cut off could have. Four months later, Rachael came to stay home with me after Zoë was born. But we were determined, dammit. In this area where the friendships can be as transient as the jobs and housing, we were determined to not allow these bonds to be broken. As the kids have grown older, numbers have been added to our families, and schedules have less space in which to pencil things in type things into iCalendar, it’s becomes harder.

So we were all excited when we were able to get together for brunch this morning. We all love food and to cook. Mary made delicious strata and frittata and a white cranberry spritzer that I am obsessed with. Rashmi brought fudgy brownies. I wanted to keep it simple, what with the mental health cocktail I’d been served for the month. I brought truffles and baked French toast. We ate. We drank. We joked inappropriately. We made memories.
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As Mary said, it was an opportunity to wear sequins before 11 am.

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Baked French Toast

Ingredients

French toast

1 loaf French bread
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract

Topping

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 stick of cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Strawberry compote

1 pint (16 oz) strawberries, diced
1/3 cup sugar

To make French toast:
Butter 9×13 pan. Tear French bread into large pieces and place in the pan. Whisk together eggs through vanilla. Pour egg mixture over the bread. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.

To make topping:(can be made ahead and refrigerated)
Mix together flour through nutmeg. Cut butter into flour mixture until the butter resembles coarse sand. Evenly sprinkle the topping on the French toast. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Compote:
Mix strawberries and sugar together in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and allow sauce to thicken, approximately 10 minutes. Allow sauce to cool for a few minutes before serving. Compote can be reheated in the microwave if it is made ahead of time.

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Baked French toast recipe from The Pioneer Woman

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