There you are on a lazy Saturday morning, sitting curbside at an intimate French café . Nearby, steam swirls upward from rich mahogany coffee. A sweet scent ignites your appetite as you wait with anticipation for a forkful of decadent French toast. Wait—France is not in your future, you say? Then let this buttery, blueberry-banana and praline french toast casserole delight take you there. Without relying on unkind standbys like eggs, cream, and butter, this praline-adorned French toast casserole, a Homestead specialty, gets its luscious custard filling from bananas and nondairy milk. A lovely addition to special brunches and holiday mornings, this simple dish will pamper your spirit.
Blueberry-Banana and Praline French Toast Casserole [Vegan]
- 1/4 cup vegan butter
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1 large (14- to 16-ounce) French baguette, cut into ½-inch thick slices
- 2 large, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick rounds
- 2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed blueberries
- 2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (if using sweetened, reduce maple syrup by 1–2 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Praline Topping
- Melt the butter in a small pot over medium heat. Add brown sugar and syrup. Stir and bring to a simmer.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the sugar is dissolved.
- Stir in the pecans and turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the stove to keep warm or else the mixture will harden. If the praline mixture hardens, reheat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the French Toast Casserole
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 9-inch square casserole dish.
- To assemble the French toast casserole, arrange one layer of baguette slices on the bottom of the casserole dish.
- Top the bread with a single layer of banana slices. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the bananas and drop spoonfuls of the praline topping over the blueberries, using about half of it. Add another layer of bread and bananas, and top with remaining blueberries. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over the bread in the casserole, saturating the top pieces. Spoon on the remaining half of the praline topping.
- Cover the dish with foil and place on a baking tray. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of baking. There should be liquid bubbling around the sides and corners when it’s done. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
If you want to make this in advance, bake and cool the dish 1 or 2 days in advance, then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. Reheat in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes while the coffee is brewing.