Baked Strawberry Buttermilk French Toast

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Weekend recap: go! First, my dad popped into town for a long layover on Saturday. I made one of his favorite meals, roast chicken, sautéed some giant asparagus spears, and Moses made a heavenly concoction of madeira, cream, and morels. We opened up a couple bottle of wine, talked about the value of disconnecting from time to time, and then unanimously decided to walk down the street for an ice cream cap (like a night cap, but with ice cream instead). On Sunday morning, I made ice cream from Lily's cookbook, which is out today (!!!) and I can't wait to share her recipe with you guys (on Thursday). If you like jasmine milk tea, you're gonna love it. After the ice cream making, Molly came over and we lounged by the pool, ate ice cold mango, and read a bunch of cookbooks. We closed out the night in Silverlake, where we met up with Lily to nosh on some mediterranean food. And just like that, the weekend was over. 

This week is pretty much a go go go kind of week. I'm getting ready to head to Maui and Oahu on Thursday for a little book research trip, which means that my stove is doing double duty 'til then! I have got to get in as much time in my kitchen as possible before I start my research. Because, when I say research, I mean that I'm making my way through all the best local food spots for the next two weeks. That means minimal kitchen time. It also means lots of running and longer workouts. And while I won't be in the kitchen for most of the trip, I am looking forward to spending some time in my mom's kitchen on Mother's Day. For the first time, in who knows how long, I'll be celebrating Mother's Day with my mom and my grandma! I told my mom that I've got all the meals covered for the day, and I'm starting with this dish right here, baked strawberry buttermilk french toast.

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What I love about this dish, is that it can be prepared the night before. That means that on Mother's day, all you'll have to do is roll out of bed, turn on the oven, and make yourself and your mom (and grandma) a cup of coffee. Then, post coffee, you'll slice up some strawberries, toss them in some sugar, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice, and tuck them into your pre-soaked and ready to go custardy slices. You'll then set them in the oven for a short, cozy baking sesh, and dice up a few more strawberries. Next you'll clean everything up, blink a couple times, and voila, breakfast will be served! Sprinkle those freshly chopped strawberries on top, grab some warm maple syrup, and serve! And don't worry, the dutch oven can go straight from the stove to the table (just be sure to use a trivet). Mother's Day breakfast doesn't get much easier than that.

If you're look for some last minute gift giving inspiration, you can do what I'm doing this year (Mom, stop reading.) After breakfast, I'm gonna give my mom the beautiful sakura (cherry blossom) dutch oven that I'm using for this french toast! Not only is it #millennialpink, it's also painted with cute, little sakura blossoms, aka the traditional Japanese symbol for Spring. I love that Le Creuset designed this sakura collection to commemorate their 25 years in Japan. It's like a pretty, little piece of history! If you want to win one of your own, or to give to your mama, head over to my Instagram and look for one of the shots from this post.  I'll be posting all the deets on how to win there!

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BAKED STRAWBERRY BUTTERMILK FRENCH TOAST

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 c. buttermilk
  • 5 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tsp. vanilla paste, divided
  • 1 (1 lb.) loaf of challah or sweet bread, sliced into 1/2-inch slices, do not use ends
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
  • 6 – 8 large strawberries, hulled and divided
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Warm maple syrup, for serving

TOOLS

FIX

  1. Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, and 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste together in a bowl. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture and generously coat each side. Meanwhile, butter the inside of the dutch oven. Arrange slices into a rose shape in your greased dutch oven, starting at the center and almost folding the first in half, like a hamburger, not a hotdog, and standing it upright in the dutch oven. Build the rose shape around that first slice until you've added all the slices to the dutch oven. Cover with the lid and transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight, or for at least 2 hours.
  2. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350°F. Slice half the strawberries so that they resemble hearts and toss with the remaining sugar, vanilla bean paste, as well as the lemon juice. Gently tuck the strawberry slices between the layers of soaked challah or sweet bread. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, custardy texture, similar to bread pudding or up to an hour, for a firmer texture. 
  3. Dice the remaining strawberries to sprinkle over the finished dish. Serve with warm maple syrup and enjoy!

This post was sponsored by Le Creuset. As always, all words and opinions, like my love of their sakura collection, are my own.