Crunchy pecans and a brown sugar caramel topping make this French toast an everyday or special occasion treat. You can use walnuts, almonds, macadamias, or your favorite nut in place of the pecans.
- Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
- 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans
- Eight to ten 1–inch–thick slices day–old gluten–free bread
- 4 large eggs
- 1 3⁄4 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Maple syrup, for serving (optional)
- Mixed diced fresh fruit, for serving (optional)
- Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt the butter. Add the brown sugar and corn syrup and heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
- Immediately pour the hot sugar mixture into the prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the top of the sugar mixture. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on top of the pecans. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, using a wire whisk, beat the eggs until foamy. Gradually whisk in the milk until well blended, then stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the custard evenly over the top of the bread slices, making sure each slice is well saturated.
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the pan from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 375F.
- Bake the French toast casserole, uncovered, until the top is puffed and golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately invert it onto a large heatproof serving platter or rimmed baking sheet. Carefully remove the pan. Be cautious when inverting and handling the pan as the topping will be very hot. Let sit for 5 minutes for the caramel to set. Serve hot with your favorite topping, if desired.