I'm blogging from my end of year getaway up in northern Michigan with a special Wednesday recipe post for you. Since a long holiday weekend is approaching, I figured that an easy and impressive brunch was the perfect thing to share today.
I love going out to brunch in the city or when we travel, but when we are up here in northern Michigan at my parents' cabin brunch options are few and far between-- and at least an hour's drive away! With that in mind, I came prepared and picked up one of the beautiful panettoni that my mom and I spotted at Eataly when she visited Chicago a few weeks ago. Eataly carries a huge variety-- with different nuts, fruit, and chocolate. I chose a traditional version with raisins, candied orange peel, and a hazelnut glaze and knew that this would be the perfect base for a festive holiday French toast bake. And don't fret if you're not near an Eataly-- I can usually find these beautiful cakes at my regular grocery store around Christmas and Easter as well as at any Italian specialty store.
This recipe is a hybrid of two of my favorite French toast recipes: a flavorful Italian-inspired panettone French toast that can be made ahead in casserole form to serve a crowd. Fruity panettone (an Italian holiday fruit cake) is sliced thick and soaked overnight in a decadent custard mixture flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, orange juice, and a splash of Grand Marnier. The orange juice and Grand Marnier really highlight the flavor of the candied orange peel in the panettone. In the morning, it's topped with a delicious candied pecan mixture and baked until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The result is almost more bread pudding than it is French toast, but it's 100% delicious and a cinch to make ahead for a big holiday brunch gathering... or to make ahead and pop in the oven for a lazy New Year's Day breakfast too!
- 1 (26 oz.) panettone cake
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup 2% milk
- 1/4 cup + 1 Tbs. orange juice, divided
- 2 Tbs. orange flavored liqueur like Grand Marnier
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
Coat one large and 1 small baking dish with cooking spray. Slice the panettone crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds. Slice each round in half and arrange slices in prepared baking dishes, overlapping each slightly over the next.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, 1/4 cup juice, liqueur, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until fully combined. Pour the mixture evenly over the top of the panettone slices. Cover the pans and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in remaining 1 Tbs. orange juice, brown sugar and pecans until fully combined. Spoon evenly over all of the slices in the baking dishes. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until lightly browned.
Serve warm with topping of your choice: confectioner's sugar, maple syrup, whipped cream, or warm fruit compote.