May 14, 2015

Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake

Orange-Cranberry French Toast BakeMy parents and my not-so-baby-sister (she just got engaged last week—what?!) flew out here to Minnesota to visit Mitch and me a couple weeks ago. We took a few trips up to “The Cities,” as they call it here, aka Minneapolis & St. Paul, and went to the Mall of America, where Dora very shamelessly bombed our photo…

My lovely parents and sister, McCall.

My lovely parents and sister, McCall, in the insanely, unbelievably huge Mall of America, with its indoor theme park(!)

and a Twins game.

Twins Game

My love and me

A swiggly panorama shot for ya

A swiggly panoramic shot of the field for ya

We drove up to Red Wing to see the Red Wing boot factory, and of course, the world’s largest boot (because why not?)…

World's largest boot

World’s largest boot!

We got ice cream at Flapdoodles (yes, you read correctly, Flap. Doodles), THREE times—you’d totally understand if you’d been there.

And my saint of a father removed our old bathroom sink and installed a new one. Bless him, that dear, dear man.

Taking out the old sink.

Taking out the old sink… in his slippers nonetheless!

New sink

Finished product!

And of course, we ate lots of food. Including this!

Orange Cranberry French Toast Bake Which is the real reason I’m writing you today. Because I wouldn’t consider myself any kind of a friend if I didn’t share this intensely delicious, exquisitely beautiful, ridiculously rich Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake with you.

Orange Cranberry French Toast Bake

A cinnamon-sugar topping makes it crispy on the top with a rich, custard-like texture underneath, infused throughout with zesty orange and studded with cranberries for bright pops of flavor.

Orange Cranberry French Toast Bake

If that wasn’t enough to have you begging for mercy, it’s topped off with a drizzling of vibrant orange syrup, which I would name as one of three things I would take with me if I were ever stranded on an island. Because you know, one must always be prepared for those kinds of scenarios.

Orange Syrup

It was a huge hit with everyone. We even talked about it days later, as if by reminiscing, we could almost taste it again. You’ll definitely have to give this one a try.

Just a few notes:

For the bread, I used some left-over cranberry bread that I had in my freezer, but if you don’t have that on hand, just use some day-old French or white bread and toss some fresh cranberries in there.

A note about the syrup: the original recipe called for blanching and draining, and blanching and draining the orange zest two times to remove the bitterness before adding it to the syrup. Well, lazy me, I didn’t want to spend the time, so I took a shortcut and brought a bowl of water to a boil in the microwave, and then I added the zest and let it sit for several minutes. Then I just drained the water. This worked out great—no bitterness at all!

Hope you love it as much as we did!

Bread pudding recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman.

Orange Syrup recipe adapted from Food & Wine.

Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This bread pudding-like Orange-Cranberry French Toast Bake is crispy on top with a smooth, custardy bottom and is vibrantly delicious, infused with orange and pops of cranberry. Served with a bright orange syrup.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 12
  • One loaf of day-old French bread or white bread (can use cranberry bread, if you have it)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries (if not using cranberry bread)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 2 T. vanilla
  • Zest from one orange
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 T. cold butter, cut into pieces
  • Zest from 1 orange
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 T. butter
  2. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. Tear or slice bread into small pieces and place in an even layer in the baking dish.
  4. Scatter cranberries evenly over the bread pieces.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour evenly over the bread pieces, making sure each piece gets soaked with the mixture.
  6. Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  8. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg, if desired.
  9. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut in the butter pieces. You want to mash up the cold butter into the mixture until it's nice and crumbly.
  10. Store in a baggie in the fridge until ready to use.
  12. In a small bowl, microwave about a cup of water until boiling. Add orange zest to the water and let sit for a few minutes. This will help to remove any bitterness leftover from the orange peel, so don't skip this step.
  13. Drain the zest.
  14. In a medium saucepan, bring orange juice, sugar, water, and drained zest to a boil.
  15. Stirring occasionally, continue boiling until syrup has reduced down and is thicker and syrupy, probably 20 minutes or so.
  16. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
  17. Serve warm over French Toast bake. Can re-heat in the microwave if needed.
  18. TO BAKE:
  19. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  20. Remove French Toast dish from the fridge and sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top.
  21. Bake for 45-50 minutes.
  22. Cut into individual portions and drizzle warm orange syrup over the top to serve.

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Breads, Breakfast, Holiday