Recipes that taste amazing but don’t require you to stand over the stove for hours rock my world! This one, Ina Garten’s French Toast Bread Pudding is one that’s hard to beat. Barefoot Contessa, you’re really onto something here! Thank you for coming up with this extremely inventive, awesome twist on classic french toast.
For this recipe, you’ll need a 9 x 13 x 2 in. baking dish and a large roasting pan. The recipe calls for a challah loaf, but my grocery store didn’t have one so I used what I could find—texas toast, a good thick white bread. If your bread is fresh, Ina Garten recommends toasting it in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. French Toast Bread Pudding requires a lot of time (it takes one and a half hours to cook) but when you sit down and take a bite, you’ll forget how long you waited.
I love using special ingredients like orange zest and extra-large eggs. However, the most special ingredient I used in this dish was that little jar of honey you see pictured above. I purchased it from a small shanty shack on the side of the road in the Tennessee mountains. It was just the right amount for this recipe.
Kosher salt is often used in gourmet baking and it really makes a huge difference. Ina Garten has an amazing recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and kosher salt is used in the icing. It intensifies all the flavors in a dish.
Order is important, especially in this step. Be sure to put your 9 x 13 x 2 in. baking dish into a larger roasting pan before layering the bread in the dish. Fill the roasting pan with warm water so that it comes about an inch up each side. This water bath will ensure the french toast stays moist during the long cooking process. Once the bread has toasted for 10 minutes, layer it in the casserole dish and pour the batter right down over the top. Let it soak for 10 additional minutes.
This is what the dish looks like after it’s been in the oven for 45 minutes, tented with aluminum foil. The egg mixture is just starting to set and the bread is beginning to brown. Remove the aluminum foil and finish cooking for 45 more minutes. I love how you can see the flecks of orange zest! While the dish baked, I poured myself another cup of coffee and watched my favorite shows on Food Network.
You won’t believe how beautiful the egg mixture puffs up and how golden brown the bread gets. It really is a gorgeous dish. MAN ALIVE…bring on the syrup, butter and confectioner’s sugar!! I served the French Toast Bread Pudding with a side of thick-sliced, crispy bacon.
You can really taste the citrus flavor and the sweetness of the honey. I could hear the toast crunch with my fork when I cut into it. I will definitely make this dish again, only next time I’ll plan to bake it for brunch or get up at 6 a.m. to get started, but most likely for brunch.
The entire recipe can be found in Ina Garten’s cookbook Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That?