How did it happen? It feels like just yesterday I was patting myself on the back for being ahead of the game with shopping and holiday preparations, then suddenly I realized Christmas is only 10 days away. Now I’m feeling terribly behind! My to-do list is still a mile long, but perhaps I’ll whittle it down by going the gift card route and skipping Christmas cards (wait, didn’t I do that last year, too?).
Oh well. I suppose being 35 weeks pregnant, mothering an active toddler, and having recently had a major sickness will do that to a person.
At any rate, I have to say I’m pretty jazzed about the upcoming celebrations. In our five years of marriage, this Christmas marks the first time that we will be having festivities in our own home instead of traveling across the country to our respective families of origin. It has been wonderful to see our relatives during holidays past, but we are looking forward to spending some quiet time together this year just the three of us.
Dan is off between Christmas and New Year’s, and while we have some house projects and other things on our radar, we are also taking it as an opportunity to connect as a family before the whirlwind of newborn life hits us in January. This Baked Pumpkin French toast might be the perfect treat for one of those lazy mornings.
In this dish, pumpkin, maple syrup, and holiday spices combine to create flavors that just seem right this time of year. The subtle sweetness is satisfying, yet it won’t have your blood sugar crashing before 11am. Pecans add crunch and texture, offering contrast to the soft French toast, and the cinnamon whipped cream brings a touch of decadence that makes this the perfect Christmas morning breakfast.
- 1 14 ½ – ounce can pumpkin puree (about 2 cups)
- 8 eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 large loaf French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans, plus more for garnish
- 2 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, eggs, heavy cream, whole milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and nutmeg. Whisk until the mixture is homogeneous. Add in the cubes of French bread and toss to coat well.
- Pour the mixture into a greased 9×13 glass baking pan and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes or overnight so that the bread can absorb the custard (store, covered, in the refrigerator if preparing the night before). Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top of the French toast mixture and bake about 40 minutes until set in the center.
- Meanwhile, prepare the cinnamon whipped cream by using a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer to beat the heavy whipping cream together with the sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon (I add the cream to the bowl first, followed by the other ingredients; this helps the flavorings to be incorporated into the cream more easily). It’s best to begin with the mixer at medium speed so as not to slosh the cream out of the bowl, but as it starts to thicken, you can increase the speed in order to help it whip up faster. Whip until soft peaks form (when you lift the beater, a soft peak should appear and the tip should fold over). Be careful not to over-whip the cream; doing so will result in a denser texture that may be grainy.
- Allow the French toast to cool slightly before serving. Top each portion with cinnamon whipped cream and additional chopped pecans if desired.
Tips and Tidbits:
- Don’t feel like you have to use French bread. You can use whatever type of bread you have on hand as long as it’s not too savory. Cinnamon swirl bread would be amazing in this dish!
- With this recipe, the French toast will be scrumptious without being overly rich. To make it more decadent, simply increase the amount of maple syrup to suit your taste. You could also increase the heavy cream to 1 ½ cups and the whole milk to 2 ½ cups to make it more of a custardy bread pudding (note that adding more liquid may necessitate additional baking time).
- When preparing the Cinnamon Whipped Cream, chilling the bowl and beaters ahead of time will help the cream whip up faster and will maximize the volume.