Sometimes the best dinner isn't dinner at all. It's breakfast. We have a long tradition at my house of breaking out the waffle iron, or the blender for smoothies, or throwing together a tofu scramble instead of something a little more traditionally dinner-like. Breakfast foods are the best foods, and as breakfast food enthusiasts none of us in my house feel obligated to limit those yummy yummy foods to just one measly meal a day. Right??? RIGHT.
This French Toast Casserole is so simple and easy, and it's great for those first couple of weeks right after school has let out and everyone is either sleeping till noon and wandering around in their pajamas half the day, or if your family is jumping both-feet-first into summer activities and balancing a busy work schedule. Just prep the night before or the morning of, stick it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, and pop it in the oven when you're ready! The pumpkin and apple pie spice blend beautifully together, while the raspberry syrup adds a perfect bright note to the dish. And the crisp crumble gives a great hearty crunch! Everyone will want seconds, trust me. Add a little fresh-squeezed orange juice and personally I'm in heaven.
For the Casserole:
1 large loaf french bread, sliced -or- whatever bread you have handy. I used a bag of potato rolls we got on clearance at the store.
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice (you could sub a combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
2 cups of your favorite non-dairy milk (I used the new Silk Cashew Milk. Holy cow YUM)
For the crumble:
1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted coconut oil -or- vegan butter substitute
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
For the syrup:
1/2 cup agave nectar -or- maple syrup (I used agave)
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (you can sub the berry of your choice, there's no bad option here!)
Spray a baking dish large enough to fit your bread slices in with non-stick cooking spray. Layer the slices of your bread in the dish, overlapping them to fit more in but not making tall stacks of bread. You want each slice to be able to soak up the pumpkin mixture. Try and fit them closely together.
Whisk together the rest of the Casserole ingredients. I used a blender because I'm lazy.
Pour the pumpkin mixture all over the slices of bread, being careful to try and drench each one as best you can. There should be enough liquid in the bottom to slosh around so that the bread can work on soaking it up.
Cover tightly and pop in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375 and grab your casserole out of the fridge.
While the over is preheating, combine all the crumble ingredients in a food processor and pulse thoroughly to combine. The mixture will be sticky. Drop in small globs over the top of the bread slices- try and distribute evenly but don't feel like you have to be crazy meticulous about it.
Cook uncovered for 45 minutes.
For the syrup:
Combine the berries and agave nectar in a microwave-safe dish and heat for approx. 2-3 minutes. Mixture will be HOT. Add to blender and blend thoroughly.
Once the casserole is done, serve with the raspberry syrup drizzled over the top.