It’s brunch season. Time to invite family and friends over for a meal that’s hearty but not too filling. Unless you want it to be, of course. It’s a relaxed way to entertain. Set out some of your favorite dishes such as quiche, colorful fresh fruit salad, scones, ham or sausage, and good coffee. And if you’re looking for some great dishes to serve, the new cookbook, “Gale Gand’s Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend’s Best Meal” is a terrific resource. Gand, the co-owner of Tru restaurant in Chicago, was also host of the Food Network’s “Sweet Dreams” show about baking that aired until 2008.
She says her recipe for Baked Cinnamon-Apple French Toast falls “somewhere between French toast and bread pudding,” She preps it the night before, so all she has to do in the morning is pop it in the oven. Mmmm, we can just smell the cinnamon …
BAKED CINNAMON-APPLE FRENCH TOAST
6 medium apples (use an assortment)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up into small cubes, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 slices Texas toast (thick presliced white bread)
8 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Honey butter (1 stick unsalted room temperature butter with a pinch salt and 1 tablespoon honey beaten in)
Peel, core and cut apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Heat butter in saute pan over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add apples and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.Lightly toast bread. Cut toast slices in half to make triangles. Butter 9x13-inch baking dish and arrange bread in two rows, overlapping in dish.
Beat eggs in medium bowl; then whisk in granulated sugar, milk and vanilla to make a custard. Pour custard over bread triangles and spoon apples over top. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.The next day, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover baking dish. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until custard is set and doesn't shimmy when you shake pan. It will puff up and brown slightly. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serve in squares or large spoonfuls, with honey butter. Makes 8 servings.
(Recipe from "Gale Gand's Brunch! 100 Fantastic Recipes for the Weekend's Best Meal," by Gale Gand with Christie Matheson)