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scooping serving of apple french toast out of red casserole dish.

Baked Apple Cider French Toast

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.7 from 10 reviews
  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4 hours (includes bread sitting out)
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours (or longer if starting night before)
  • Yield: serves 12
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Start this baked apple cider French toast casserole ahead of time so you can wake up and bake a deliciously spiced fall breakfast or brunch! Be sure to use apple cider, the nonalcoholic beverage, and not apple cider vinegar.


Ingredients

  • 1 (12–14-ounce) loaf French breadsourdough bread, or challah*
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup (240ml) apple cider
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch salt

Cinnamon Apples

  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp; 56g) unsalted butter
  • 4 medium apples, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch slices (about 4 cups/500g)*
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) apple cider
  • 1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (90g) pecan halves
  • for serving: confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and/or salted caramel sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice the bread into 1-inch-wide slices. Let the sliced bread sit out uncovered for a few hours or up to 1 day. (If you don’t have enough time, see recipe Note below for a shortcut.)
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch (or any 3.5–4-quart) baking dish, or spray with nonstick spray. The pictured red pan is this one, but either a metal or glass pan works just as well.
  3. In a medium bowl preferably with a pour spout, whisk the eggs, apple cider, milk, brown sugar, orange zest, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt together until combined. Set aside. 
  4. Dip each slice of bread in the egg custard mixture, soaking both sides. Place in the prepared baking dish, lining the slices up next to each other. Pour any remaining custard over the top. Set aside.
  5. Cook the apples: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, apple cider, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples have slightly softened. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans.
  6. Spoon the apple mixture over the top of the bread slices, and pour any remaining sauce from the skillet over the top of everything.
  7. Cover the casserole tightly and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to 1 day. This gives the bread a chance to soak up the custard and is a key step in this recipe.
  8. Remove casserole from the refrigerator and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  9. Bake casserole uncovered for 20 minutes, and then cover with aluminum foil and bake for an additional 25–35 minutes or until center appears set and is no longer runny. The total time this casserole takes is 45–55 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving. Casserole deflates slightly as it cools. Feel free to sift a dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top, and/or drizzle maple syrup or salted caramel sauce on entire casserole or on individual servings.
  11. Cover leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 2–3 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: You can prepare the French toast casserole through step 6 up to 1 day in advance before baking. Cover tightly and refrigerate until you’re ready to bake it. Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature while your oven preheats. You can freeze leftover baked and cooled casserole for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat to your liking in the microwave, or cover and bake in a 300°F (149°C) oven until warm throughout, at least 20 minutes.
  2. Special Tools (affiliate links): Vegetable Peeler | 9×13-inch Baking Dish (or any 3.5–4-quart baking dish such as this one) | Glass Mixing Bowl or Bowl with Pour Spout| Whisk | Sieve
  3. Bread: Crusty, somewhat stale bread is best for French toast casseroles. If you’re in a rush and don’t have time to let the bread sit out as instructed in step 1, lay the bread slices on baking sheets in a single layer and bake in a 300°F (149°C) oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Apple Cider: Make sure you’re using apple cider the (nonalcoholic, non-carbonated) drink, not apple cider vinegar. You can use apple juice instead if cider if you must, but you’ll lose some flavor. Learn how to make a homemade apple cider beverage in a slow cooker.
  5. Milk: Whole milk is best because it produces a rich casserole that isn’t too heavy. You can use lower-fat or nondairy milks in a pinch. Half-and-half works, too. I found heavy cream too heavy and rich for this casserole.
  6. Nut Free: You can leave out the pecans if desired.