This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was chosen by Heide of Chez Zero. It was Ellie's Blueberry Almond French Toast Bake, from her book So Easy. Ok, I have to be completely honest here: we did not love this. Not at all. It's a shame, really, because we were looking forward to this one. And it turned out so pretty, too!
Now, there are a couple reasons why I think this did not work out for us, and I would love to try making this again with a few changes. For starters, the bread that I used was way too soft. I know I was supposed to use crusty, or day-old, bread. However, the bread I bought for this was this crazy soft bread that remained soft for three days! I bought it early enough that I thought for sure it would be stale by the time I needed it, but no dice. It's ironic, isn't it? The one time I really wantd my bread to become hard, and it wouldn't! Oh, well.
So that was my biggest problem. The finished product was really soggy, and I just don't like my french toast casseroles to come out that mushy. I like them to be firm and solid on the inside, with a nice crispy crust on the outside. I feel like there were too many eggs in this recipe. If I were to do it all over again, I would not use 8 (8!) whole eggs plus 8 egg whites. Instead I would probably use half that, at least. Both my hubby and I felt like the inner texture of this dish was just weird. It contained both qualities of cooked, soft scrambled eggs and mushy bread all at the same time. The taste itself was not bad, but it wasn't great enough to redeem the whole thing.
One fun thing I should mention, though: I decided to brulee the top, just for kicks. The top turned out to be the best thing about the french toast bake! It was easy; I just removed the dish from the oven when the bake time was complete, and sprinkled it lightly with granulated sugar. I switched the oven to broil and put the dish back in for a few minutes. The top became slightly charred-looking in some spots and extra crispy all over. The almonds got super-toasty, too. I thought it was really tasty, and it's a fun way to finish off a dish like this.
Thanks to Heide for the pick this week. I'm glad I got to try it, success or not. Besides, like I said, I'm now motivated to make this recipe again, but hopefully with improvements! Maybe the other CEIMBers made out better than me; you can check out the blogroll here.