Strawberry Shortcake Baked French Toast
(make ahead, and let sit in the fridge for several hours or overnight before baking)
1 large loaf of Texas Toast (got ours CHEAP at the bakery outlet!)
1 container of of strawberries
12-16 ounces of cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tsp vanilla (2 for cream cheese mixture, 1 for egg mixture)
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 tsp Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus mix
Sprinkle of nutmeg
Sprinkle of ginger
Powdered Sugar for sprinkling over the top after baking, we keep ours in a shaker
Take a few slices of bread at at time and make about 3 to 4 slices both vertically and horizontally, to make about 1.5 inch cubes of bread. Cube about half of the loaf of bread, and spread it into a 9" x 13" pan that has been greased with either butter or cooking spray. Make sure to fill in the gaps and press down the cubes to create a nice solid layer on the bottom of the pan.
Wash, core, and slice strawberries, first in half, and then in about 1/4 inch thick slices. You want them to retain a bit of shape and substance during the baking process, and if the slices are too thin, you will just get jam instead of strawberry chunks. Sprinkle the strawberry slices evenly over the first bread layer. You can really use any fruit you have on hand. We've done canned peaches, frozen mixed berries, frozen blueberries, fresh blueberries. Whatever strikes your fancy, that you have on hand, or is in season :)
Warm up the cream cheese in the microwave for about a minute, stirring after a minute, until the cream cheese is nice and smooth. Add white sugar, sour cream, and 2 tsp vanilla, stir well. Pour mixture over strawberries and smooth over entire surface.
Cube the rest of the bread and add it over the cream cheese layer. It will probably be a tight fit, just squish it all in there and try to fill in the gaps. It's okay to press down a bit with the bread, once you add the egg mixture it will plump it up and soak all in to the layers of bread.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl really well, then add in the the spices and whisk to incorporate. Continue to whisk while adding in the evaporated milk (don't forget to shake the can well first!) and cream. We've also made this mixture using 2 cups soymilk only or 1.5 cups soymilk and a half cup of kefir or yogurt. Carefully pour over the bread, allowing it to soak in a bit if it seems like it will overflow. It really will go down and fill in all the little gaps!
Cover and refrigerate, 4 hours to overnight.
Bake at 350* on the middle rack covered in foil, for 45 minutes.
Uncover and rotate dish 180, bake another 15-20 minutes. The top will get nice and golden.
Remove from oven and let the dish set for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Sift powdered sugar over slices, and watch the family gobble it up!
You can also add a drizzle of warm fruit syrup or maple syrup over each slice. Serve with a slice of warm ham or a couple of pieces of bacon. YUM. This is also great to take to a breakfast potluck, just pop in the oven in the morning before you get in the shower and it's ready to go when you are!
Packs great in bentos, if you can get your family to leave any leftovers!