Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
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Pumpkin French Toast Casserole is full of pumpkin and spices with a brown sugar and pecan streusel baked on top. It’s an easy breakfast to make ahead of time and refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning.
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Baked Pumpkin French Toast
Much like a bread pudding, this baked French toast is a bread-based casserole that combines cubed stale bread with a creamy egg custard, that is then baked to perfection.
This pumpkin French toast casserole takes on a fall twist, including pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice to make it smell like the holidays. The crunchy crumb topping makes it an extra special breakfast or brunch for family or guests.
Make-Ahead Overnight Breakfast Casserole
The best part about this pumpkin French toast casserole is that you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight for a breakfast casserole the next morning. Making it perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast.
I will sometimes rush it and bake the casserole after soaking for only an hour or two. However, it is more thick, soft, and dense the longer you let it absorb the custard.
Which Bread to Use
What kind of bread should you use for baked French toast? Since bread is the main ingredient in any baked French toast casserole, you want a crusty, sturdy bread that can soak up a lot of custard.
Day old, or stale bread works best. Stale bread holds its shape better when soaking up the custard mixture, while fresh bread tends to mush completely together. This causes the cubed bread pieces to disappear into one solid slab.
TIP: If you don’t have stale bread, you can cheat and toast the bread in the oven to dry it out. (Instructions for this are in the recipe card.)
While you can argue that any stale bread would work, a heavy, sturdy bread like French bread, Sourdough, Brioche or Challah are popular choices.
My Bread Choice
For this pumpkin French toast casserole, I went with Rhodes Warm & Serve French Rolls for their sturdy texture and great taste. I’ve also used them for raspberry bread pudding and even campfire sandwiches, so they can withstand hot coals as well. These rolls are way better than the bargain priced French bread at the store.
Rhodes Artisan French Rolls crisp up nicely on the outside when they are warmed in the oven, while keeping the inside soft and fluffy. They’re great with dinner, but work well for desserts too!
These Warm & Serve dinner rolls are kept in the freezer, so you can pull out just what you need, and warm them up in the oven (or microwave).
I used eight rolls (to equal roughly 8-9 cups of cubed bread) for this pumpkin French toast casserole recipe.
After your bread is staled and cubed, it’s time to make the pumpkin custard. This is where all that yummy fall flavor comes into play.
- Simply whisk together, milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Pour the pumpkin custard evenly over the cubed bread in a 13×9-inch pan.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the casserole for a minimum of 3-4 hours, or up to overnight.
MILK ALTERNATIVES: Whole milk and heavy cream are preferred for a rich tasting casserole, but you can substitute both liquids with a lower fat or non-dairy milk.
While the bread is soaking, prepare the streusel topping. This can be refrigerated until ready to top and bake the pumpkin French toast casserole.
In fact, I recommend refrigerating the crumb topping ahead of time, so that the streusel doesn’t melt too quickly into the custard and bread portion of the dish.
- Combine all-purpose flour, chopped pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cold butter in a bowl. Cut ingredients together with a pastry blender or fork, or rub together with your fingers until pea size crumbs form. Place streusel in the fridge until ready to bake.
Personal Preference: I like to have huge crumbs on top, which is easier to create with your hands rather than a kitchen tool/utensil. You may need to press some crumbs together to make them larger and add extra flour if it gets too wet.
NUT ALTERNATIVES: You can use chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds in the streusel topping. If nuts are not your favorite, you can substitute the nuts with old-fashioned oats, or simply leave them out.
Baking the Pumpkin French Toast Casserole
Once the casserole has had time to soak up the majority of the liquid, you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the pumpkin French toast casserole from the fridge and discard the plastic wrap.
- Top evenly with the prepared streusel.
- Bake at 350˚F for 45-60 minutes, or until the casserole is no longer jiggly.
NOTE: If the crumb topping starts browning too quickly, you can tent the pan with foil and continue baking.
Serving and Storing
Allow the pumpkin French toast bake to cool for several minutes before slicing. Serve while still warm.
Top slices with a dusting of powdered sugar and maple syrup.
Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Nuke leftovers for 45-60 seconds in the microwave to reheat.
FREEZING: You may freeze slices in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 3 months, dividing layers with parchment, if needed. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat as desired.
Tips for Success
- Stale Bread Hack: Remember the best French toast bake is made with stale bread. If you’re using fresh bread, you can create “stale” bread by cubing the bread, and toasting it at 275˚F for 15-20 minutes or until the bread feels slightly crisp when touched.
- Time to Soak: Unlike a regular French toast recipe, where you quickly submerge the bread into the custard and cook it immediately, baked French toast does better with a longer soaking time. Plus, the longer it soaks, the less time it takes to bake, and the less soggy it tastes. Soak the pumpkin French toast casserole in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or up to overnight.
- Make the Streusel Ahead of Time: While the casserole is soaking, make the streusel topping and refrigerate it. Since streusel has a lot of butter, it will benefit from time to chill in the fridge before being added to the casserole and going into a hot oven. This ensures the crumbs don’t dissolve into the custard too soon.
- How to Tell When it’s Done Baking: Depending on how long the baked pumpkin French toast soaked, it can bake in as little as 45 minutes or as long as an hour (or so). Plus, every oven is different. Just give the pan a shake. If it still jiggles in the center, it needs more time. If you can find a section of bread without streusel on top, you can try to test it with a toothpick. But the streusel may scrape off any under-done wetness inside the casserole. The jiggle test is better.
- Have Some Foil Ready: If at any point the casserole is starting to brown too much, simply tent the top with a piece of foil. Just keep an eye on it.
You’re going to love this fall breakfast!
More Fall Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like:
- Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake
- Apple French Toast Casserole
- Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
- Pumpkin Crumble with Cinnamon Rolls
- Apple Cider Donut Cake
If You Make This Recipe, Please Rate and Review it in the Comments Below. THANKS!
French Toast Casserole:
- 8 Rhodes Warm & Serve French Rolls, thawed
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, gently packed
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the rolls into cubes (should equal roughly 8-9 cups). Spread the cubed bread into a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake bread cubes at 275˚F for 15-20 minutes to dry out/stale the bread. Bread will feel slightly crisp when touched.
- FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE: Spray a 9x13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place the toasted bread cubes inside the baking pan. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, pumpkin puree, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the cubed bread in the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to overnight.
- STREUSEL TOPPING: Combine the all-purpose flour, chopped pecans, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cold butter in a bowl. Cut ingredients together with a pastry blender or fork, or rub together with your fingers until pea size crumbs form. Place streusel in the fridge until ready to bake.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the pumpkin French toast casserole from the fridge and discard the plastic wrap. Top evenly with the prepared streusel.
- BAKE at 350˚F for 45-60 minutes, or until the casserole is no longer jiggly. If the crumb topping starts browning too quickly, you can tent the pan with foil and continue baking. Serve warm with maple syrup or powdered sugar.
- STORING: Cover and store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Nuke leftovers for 45-60 seconds in the microwave to reheat.
- FREEZING: You may freeze slices in a freezer-safe bag or airtight container for up to 3 months, dividing layers with parchment, if needed. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat as desired.
- MILK ALTERNATIVES: Whole milk and heavy cream are preferred for a rich tasting casserole, but you can substitute both liquids with a lower fat or non-dairy milk.
- NUT ALTERNATIVES: You can use chopped pecans, walnuts, or almonds in the streusel topping. If nuts are not your favorite, you can substitute the nuts with old-fashioned oats, or simply leave them out.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 276Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 124mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 28gProtein: 6g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix, and is an estimation only.