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Kabocha & maple caramel baked French toast

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Ingredients

Instructions

  1. The night before: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar, spices, and salt. Cook, stirring, just until hot, then remove from heat and set aside. Butter a 2-quart baking dish (an 8×8 dish or 10-inch skillet will work, or even a loaf pan) and fill it with the bread cubes or slices. Once the milk mixture is cool, add the eggs and whisk until well-combined. Reserve ½ cup of the egg-milk mixture and refrigerate, covered. Pour the rest evenly over the bread and let soak overnight, covered and refrigerated. (Note: Reserving the ½ cup is optional — I like it because it helps keep the top moist after soaking overnight, but it’s not strictly necessary.)
  2. The day of: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the remaining ½ cup of the egg-milk mixture over the top of the French toast. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until custard is set but still a bit wobbly, and the bread is slightly browned and does not ooze liquid when poked.
  3. While the French toast is baking, make the maple caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. It will still stay a bit separated; this is fine. Add the cream or milk, taking care not to get splattered, and stir until fully combined. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the maple syrup and salt. Stir until incorporated, then set aside until ready to use. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
  4. When the French toast is done, serve warm with slightly sweetened Greek yogurt or whipped cream (Greek yogurt is my favorite) and plenty of caramel sauce.

Notes

Either sliced or cubed bread will work here; I liked the way that this looked with slices nestled together, but cubes will allow for more even moistening if that is what you prefer (and worked wonderfully in a 4-cavity mini loaf pan, where each loaf held approximately 2 cups). It doesn’t make a big difference either way.