I don’t know about you, but I always get REALLY excited about the possibilities for Christmas morning breakfast.
Of course, I am excited to see my kids’ reactions to the presents under the tree, opening our stockings, and drinking a hot cup of coffee while my husband plays Santa and hands out all the gifts.BUT I get just as excited for breakfast. Or brunch! Christmas brunch! It’s just too fun.
And while this year may look different for most (I feel like a broken record saying that lately), I still think we have cause for celebration. It is CHRISTMAS, after all. Let’s go all out, friends. Let’s send this horrid year out on a high note!
My go-to Christmas breakfast in recent years is a big batch of gooey cinnamon rolls and a savory egg strata of some kind. Filled in with fresh fruit and mimosas and loads of cozy coffee. It’s heavenly.
This year, I am going to try switching something up. Instead of cinnamon rolls, I’m going for this gingerbread French toast bake!
My family will still be very happy. My kids love French toast, and I have to say, of all the sweet and carby breakfast options, it’s up there for me too. I’d pick it over pancakes any day.
To amp up the festive spirit, I’ve made a gingerbread twist on a classic baked French toast. Into the mix goes dark and syrupy molasses and loads of gingerbread spice. I also like to add maple syrup to the custard to impart sweetness and that classic French toast aroma. The last special touch is a little bit of fresh orange zest. It brightens up all those decadent and spiced flavors perfectly.
For a little pop of color and freshness, I also mix some fresh cranberries into the cubed bread. Not only do they look beautiful, but they add a pop of tart flavor to an otherwise luxurious breakfast.
This is the sort of dish that you want to prep the day before, which makes it PERFECT for Christmas morning celebrations (because no one wants to do that on the actual big day!).
You assemble and cover the entire thing and pop it in the fridge to soak overnight. About an hour before you want to sit down to breakfast, pull it out of the fridge and preheat the oven. It gets baked off until the custard is set and creamy, the bread is toasted, and all of the flavors meld together.
I can absolutely guarantee that your house will smell like pure heaven.
The only thing that’s left to do is a generous dusting of powdered sugar and maybe another drizzle of maple syrup. But other than that, breakfast is done.
And it’s a real stunner!
This Gingerbread French Toast Bake is a stunning dish to make during the holiday season. It’s perfect for Christmas morning because it is mostly make ahead and tastes like a festive celebration! Molasses, maple syrup, and warming gingerbread spices make this one something really special that you’ll want to make time and time again.
- 1 loaf crusty Italian or French bread, cubed (you want roughly 8 cups of bread)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost if using frozen)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk (2% works well too)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ⅓ cup dark unsulphured molasses
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon orange zest (from roughly ½ of a large orange)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Powdered sugar, for serving
- Additional maple syrup, for serving
- Butter or spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the cubed bread in the baking dish. Scatter the cranberries evenly over the cubed bread.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk, cream, molasses, maple syrup, orange zest, spices, and salt until well combined.
- Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes. Gently press down on the bread cubes to submerge them as much as possible in the custard. It’s OK if you have some exposed bread cubes on top – they will add nice crunchy texture.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place the baking dish in the fridge overnight (or for a minimum of 6 hours).
- When you are ready to bake, remove the baking dish from the fridge and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish and place it in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the bread is crisped and golden and the custard is completely set (I recommend checking it around 25-30 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Dust with powdered sugar and drizzle with syrup when serving.
Bread that is a couple days old or slightly stale works best for this type of recipe. When the bread it a little dry, it really soaks up the custard and creates a fluffy, moist French toast experience.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes (plus additional chilling time)
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: breakfast
Keywords: gingerbread french toast bake, gingerbread french toast casserole, christmas morning french toast, christmas brunch, gingerbread french toast