I can’t believe this recipe hasn’t been on the blog before now. I’ve made it a zillion times. I found it originally at epicurious.com, and it really saved me Christmas 99 when I was sick and had in-laws in town for 8 days. I made it twice, using different fruit and nuts each time. It is unbelievably easy and perfect for someone who isn’t a morning person. With the fruit and maybe some bacon (which you could cook on a rack in the oven at the same time), you have a complete breakfast.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1-2 T. sugar or cinnamon sugar12 3/4-inch-thick French bread slices
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 T. maple syrup
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2-4 T. Grand Marnier (optional, but add whatever looks right)
Place melted butter in bottom of heavy large baking pan with 1-inch-high sides. Sprinkle sugar or cinnamon sugar over butter (to caramelize). Arrange bread slices in pan. Beat eggs, milk, sugar, syrup, vanilla, Grand Marnier, and salt to blend in large bowl. Pour mixture over bread. Turn bread slices to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Top with fruit and/or nuts if desired (such as dried cranberries, sliced almonds, walnuts, and/or pecans, or you could top with fresh fruit after baking instead). Bake French toast 10-12 minutes, until golden. Turn bread over and continue baking until golden, about 5-10 minutes longer. Transfer cooked toast to plates and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve immediately, passing maple syrup.