Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast (Overnight Recipe)

It’s a little difficult to focus on writing this post because all I want to do is head to the kitchen and mix up another batch of French toast for the morning.

I already know I have pumpkin puree in the refrigerator, and Danny sheepishly arrived home from work with two loaves of whole wheat miche under his arm “…in case you wanted to make more of that baked French toast.”

It’s official: we’re completely smitten with this pull-apart Pumpkin French Toast. It bakes up crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, serves up in slices just like pan-fried French Toast, and is marvelous with a homemade Molasses-Cinnamon Syrup.  You have to try it this weekend.

Baked-Overnight-Pull-Apart-Pumpkin-French-Toast. What on earth?

This weekend breakfast dish comes with a decidedly long handle. Allow me to explain each of the terms and why they matter – and then perhaps we can rename the dish in the comment section!

Baked

I’m a longtime fan of baking my french toast, especially when I have a crowd to feed. I’m a firm believer that the cook should be able to sit down at the table and enjoy a hot breakfast along with everyone else instead of standing over a skillet preparing the pan-fried version.

By baking the French toast (similarly to a bread pudding), it delivers the dish to the table all at once, while maintaining a consistent temperature and texture to the French toast.

Now you get to join the family for breakfast and perhaps have a shot at getting a piece of bacon before the kids eat it all.

Overnight

Mixing the French toast the night before and allowing it to chill overnight in the refrigerator serves two purposes: flavor and convenience. You’re giving the (often stale) bread a chance to really soak in the pumpkin spice milk mixture and letting the flavors meld together (similar to how a marinade works).

Also, how wonderful it is to wake up, pop breakfast in the oven, and then go back to bed or curl up with the newspaper for half an hour or so? The mixing, measuring and making of dishes is done the evening before, allowing for a simple morning.

Hmm, I’m already thinking about this French Toast for our Christmas morning brunch.

Pull-Apart

Admittedly, this one came about through a little pet peeve of mine where baked French toast actually looks more like bread pudding. Cubes of bread are  baked together and the dish is cut into wedges and served. Sure it tastes great, and there’s nothing wrong with this method, but I wanted something different.

When I created this recipe I was aiming for an overnight French toast that actually served up in slices, like the pan-fried version. Presentation was my main motivation, but after peeking around at various pull-apart cinnamon breads, I realized that layering the slices of bread with cinnamon sugar would add the perfect sweet touch as well.

How right I was! Since there is no sugar in the actual egg batter, the breakfast is sweetened by a sprinkling of brown sugar between each piece of bread. This also prevents the bread from ‘gluing’ together during the baking time and allows for individual servings of French Toast. It’s the little things.

Pumpkin

It’s the flavor of the month, er, the season. We’ve made cookies and bread, have a pie coming next week, and I couldn’t resist adding it to our breakfast as well. Here’s why the pumpkin really works, though: I’ve chosen to use a fairly hefty whole wheat loaf for this breakfast instead of the traditional French baguette or Italian-style all-white soft loaf, and the pumpkin keeps the bread soft and moist.

The pumpkin flavor comes though brilliantly, complemented by the molasses and blend of spices. I keep imagining just how delicious it would be when made with pumpkin challah. Perhaps for Christmas morning breakfast or New Year’s Day brunch.

Tip: If pumpkin isn’t your thing, see a variation for Apple Cinnamon Baked French Toast below.

Baked Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast
4.3 from 4 reviews
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Recipe type: Breakfast
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 loaf hearty whole wheat bread, sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
Instructions
The night before…
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, 2 Tablespoons melted butter, molasses and 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice blend.
  2. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture to coat well, then place, one layer thick, on a 13×17 baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining pumpkin mixture on top of the bread.
  3. Place plastic wrap over the soaking bread slices and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
In the morning…
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter an 8 x 11 baking dish. Mix together brown sugar with remaining teaspoon of spice blend.
  2. Remove plastic wrap from the soaked bread and brush tops lightly with remaining 2 Tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle French toast tops all over with cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Starting with the smaller pieces, arrange the slices of bread in the buttered baking dish, propping them up on top of each other until the pan is full. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are crispy.
  4. Serve at once with Molasses-Cinnamon Syrup or pure maple syrup, and whipped cream.
Notes
Variation: Apple Cinnamon French Toast. Prepare recipe as usual, replacing the pumpkin puree with equal amounts of apple sauce or apple butter.

 

So that’s my dish. Try it out and then come leave me a suggestion for a brilliant name for the recipe!

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites.

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Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, that looks incredible. So very wrong and yet so right.
    JJ @ 84thand3rd’s last post: Eat.Drink.Blog

  2. I love the idea of being able to just put it in the oven in the morning. I hate missing the coffee chat, and everyone being done eating before I have a bite. This recipe is put genius!!!
    Jen’s last post: Cabbage Salad with Mint and Garlic

  3. Wow, what a delicious-looking recipe! We’re oven-less in South Korea right now, but I’ll be bookmarking this for a day when I’m able to make it!

  4. Wow, this recipe looks delicious.
    I am not quite a fan of demanding recipes, to be precise, recipes that requires too much time.
    But, in fact this one isn’t difficult at all, we just need to prepare it in the evening and bake it in the morning. :)
    I like it!
    Daca’s last post: Counting sheep is out | How to fall asleep in modern times

  5. Mmmmm! Such a great seasonal flavor. I make an eggnog french toast every Christmas morning, which seems very similar (make-ahead, baked)! I L-O-V-E recipes like this that sit overnight. It is such a great convenience during the busy holiday season.

    And the name…I’d just call it Pull-Apart Pumpkin French Toast. I know, no frill or flair or imagination to the name but you’d know what to expect from the name alone. Delish!
    Melissa’s last post: The Giddiness Snow Brings (Recipe: Oatmeal Cake)

    • Love the idea of Eggnog French Toast, too, Melissa. I may have to incorporate it into this recipe!

      • Aimee, if you ever make the eggnog version, could you update this post to let us know the correct variations to make? I know that eggnog is much less viscous than pumpkin puree or applesauce, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to adapt the recipe.

  6. This looks amazing! All of the pumpkin recipes lately have been hits, but this speaks to my love of french toast. I wish I had this for breakfast instead of toast and hot chocolate. I’m making it on Sunday. Mmm. I don’t know how to shorten the name, but instead of pull-apart, you could say layered?

  7. Wow! Sounds wonderful! I’d love to make it today but have no molasses. (For the first time ever i’ve prepared my own pumpkin purée!! It’s all frozen in little baggies for all these lovely pumpkin recipes! : ) ) Anything I could substitute until I can get some molasses in the house??

    • Congratulations on your homemade pumpkin puree, Jacquie! The kids are going to love you for that.

      You can leave out the molasses, just add a little of our Quebec maple syrup instead! Honey would work too.

  8. I am imagining how good this smells while baking… ohh. I think I may have to try this out this weekend.
    Lisa J’s last post: clay play

  9. What an AWESOME looking dish! And I love pumpkin, can’t wait to try it!
    Bernice
    Successful Woman’s Resource Center’s last post: When Thanksgiving dinner is at YOUR house

  10. You’re some kind of scary genius, you know that? I love how you solved the slice vs. chunk problem. I love pumpkin, but James is never too thrilled to see it on his plate, so I *have* to try the apple cinnamon version. I think he and I would both be in love.
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Homemade Biscoff Cookies

  11. Wow this looks fabulous! How about making it ahead and freezing? Would you recommend and, if so, at what stage!

    • I’m thinking about this, Rosemary. I’ve never experimented with freezing the recipe yet and I’d be concerned about soggy bread when everything thaws.

      The few leftover slices did re-heat nicely in the oven, covered with foil, so perhaps I would suggest freezing it once it had been baked.

      Hope that helps and let me know how it goes!

  12. This will bring sunshine to the grayest, coldest winter morning. Thanks.

  13. You’re a genius! (and Dan really loves his French toast, so I won’t have to eat the whole loaf on my own.)
    Casey@Good. Food. Stories.’s last post: Uncommonly Good in San Francisco

  14. Yum, yum and yum! I will be making this one on Sunday, for sure. Love the pull-apart idea — I do baked French toast a lot, but you’re right, it does all blend together like bread pudding. I don’t mind that — but it will be so nice to have it come out in individual slices! And we love all things pumpkin in our house. Thanks for sharing!
    CookiePie’s last post: Pumpkin crumb coffee cake

  15. i love dishes like this, especially when we have family visiting on weekends. i may make this next weekend :)

  16. Genius! I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe for our Thanksgiving morning brunch…and I think I just found it.

    As for names, what about French Monkey Toast? Well I don’t know, it sounds weird. But often those pull-apart breads are called monkey bread, so I was trying to play off that. Baked French Monkey Bread? Monkey French Toast? (shrug)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm’s last post: A Stressed Out Athenian Detective

  17. I think I love you!
    Stacy Makes Cents’s last post: Fix and Forget Friday – Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

  18. Love this recipe! Perfect for Thanksgiving brunch.
    Tracy’s last post: Glazed Sprinkle Cookies

  19. Oh man, this looks AMAZING! I want to make it for breakfast tomorrow…couple questions though: I don’t buy molasses often; would honey or maple syrup work? And in the apple version, does it matter if the applesauce is unsweetened or sweetened? We buy cinnamon applesauce pretty regularly but most baking recipes using applesauce call for unsweetened.

    • Maple syrup or honey would work just perfectly. The molasses is added to have a natural sweetener in the batter. Any applesauce is fine – it’s just to add moisture to the mix.

      Enjoy! We’re having it again tomorrow, too. :)

  20. This recipe looks heavenly!! How found would this be to make with weekend guests? Thanks!
    The Newlywed Chefs’s last post: WINNER! Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Solid Potholder Giveaway

  21. *fun
    The Newlywed Chefs’s last post: WINNER! Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Solid Potholder Giveaway

  22. I made this last night/this morning… YUM! It was phenomenal! It got glowing Thumbs Up from everyone… M’honey, son, daughter, 2 neighbors & myself all.. Yep.. Its a keeper! Thanks!

  23. I just put it all together for tomorrow morning…it smells so very good and looks amazing! I’m excited to try it!!!

  24. Oh I can just imagine how heavenly this even smells!
    In Katrina’s Kitchen’s last post: November is For Peanut Butter

  25. This looks great! Can’t wait to make it for my gang!
    Gretchen’s last post: Autumn, the Year’s Last, Loveliest Smile

  26. I will dream about this every night until the weekend, when I have time to make it. Thanks for sharing!
    Angie (TheActorsWife)’s last post: gotta get a goat

  27. I am so into all things pumpkin at this time of year! This festive spin on a classic breakfast sounds insanely delicious!
    Jamie | My Baking Addiction’s last post: Pumpkin Roll

  28. Oh my goodness! I would bring home more bread to you as well. The guys are gonna flip when I make this.
    Tickled Red’s last post: Friendsgiving- A New Tradition

  29. What a great idea! I can’t wait to try it!
    Julia’s last post: On a Pumpkin Kick: 10 Keeper Recipes I’ll Make Again and Again

  30. It looks so so good. I will try this recipe out for sure!

  31. Emma Chalmers says:

    Hi there

    I’ll be blogging about this recipe tomorrow. Loved it! Thanks.

  32. This looks soooooo soooooo good!

  33. This is awesome Aimee. I settled on a breakfast recipe for visiting family and you have rescued me with something more appropriate! I can’t wait to try this out on Friday. Thanks for sharing!

  34. I’m making this tomorrow morning for our “Thanksgiving” brunch! Normally, I make baked french toast. I’m super excited to try this with the pumpkin and the spices! Can’t wait!!!

  35. My pumpkiny bread slices are happily in the fridge right now – I’ve been thinking about this dish all night. Can’t wait to throw it in the oven and take my first big bite!

    I didn’t have molasses so I used packed organic brown sugar instead. And I’ll be serving it with homemade cinnamon sugar butter and organic pure maple syrup!

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