Guys, the poor pictures don’t do this French toast bake justice. It’s the bomb! Seriously delicious and full of homegrown blackberries which are only 10 bazillion times better than store-bought. And so easy to make because all 15 minutes of prep work is done before your little head hits the pillow and then it bakes the next day while you let the dog out, shower, blow-dry your hair, or, if you’re like me, stagger around in your jammies searching for caffeine because you don’t.do.mornings.ever.
Our son bought a house in the country in December. Now that it’s summertime he’s discovering that at least one of the home’s previous owners liked to plant things, and apparently blackberries were a favorite. Obviously left unattended for years to wander on their own, there are blackberry vines all over the place. He’s got a lot of work ahead to get things under control and bring the wayward plants into some kind of order where you can actually navigate between them instead of stepping on some to get to others. Right now it’s a blackberry jungle out there.
Jungle or not, though, we’ve made like Tarzan and navigated through the vines, trees, weeds, and brush to pick fresh blackberries. I know most people don’t have access to their own blackberry
jungle patch, but if you have a farmer’s market anywhere close to you I encourage you to try the blackberries they offer. Home-grown, fresh-from-the-vine blackberries are sweeter, and those seeds that can be a little on the tough side aren’t as crunchy. Obviously, store-purchased blackberries work fine in this recipe and if that’s what you have access to I encourage you to pick some up and make it! I’ve also made this with raspberries-delicious either way.
I love the addition of cream cheese in the center of this French toast bake. A little maple syrup (you can use pancake syrup) adds just a hint of sweetness to the cream cheese. Those blackberries really steal the show, though. If I can’t persuade you to come over to the dark side, then toss on raspberries.
After the rest of the bread cubes go on you’ll pour a milk/egg mixture over everything to soak in to the bread and give the French toast bake a delicious, custardy texture, sort of like bread pudding. It takes awhile to soak in so let it rest overnight while you rest overnight. In the morning bake it and enjoy!
I like my French toast bakes on the softer side-more custardy and not very crunchy on the top. If you like yours firmer, and with a crispy top, you can bake yours longer after removing the foil. Either way, you’ll want to let it rest 10 minutes at least after baking so it’s firm enough to get out of the dish.
We enjoy this topped with maple syrup. Cover any leftovers and store in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave.
I won’t pretend a French toast bake is health food-but blackberries certainly are. Loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins, these berries fill you up with the good stuff. I’m pretty sure we’ll be eating loads this summer. I just have to go on a few jungle expeditions.
Blackberry Cream Cheese French Toast Bake
- 6 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 Tbs. maple syrup (can use pancake syrup)
- Half of a 15 oz. loaf of French bread, cubed
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg
- 6 oz. blackberries
- 1 ¼ c. whole milk
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- Step 1 Spray an 8”x 8” baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Step 2 In a small bowl beat the cream cheese with the maple syrup. Set aside.
- Step 3 Place half of the cubed bread in the bottom of the prepared dish.
- Step 4 In a small bowl mix together the 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish.
- Step 5 Randomly place teaspoon-size dollops of the cream cheese mixture all over the bread cubes (use all the cream cheese).
- Step 6 Sprinkle all the blackberries over the top of the cream cheese.
- Step 7 Spread the other half of the bread cubes over the blackberries. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar/cinnamon/nutmeg mixture.
- Step 8 In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour all of this evenly over everything in the baking dish.
- Step 9 Cover dish with foil and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
- Step 10 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Step 11 Remove dish from refrigerator and bake, still covered, 25 minutes.
- Step 12 Remove foil and bake 15 minutes longer.
- Step 13 Let set at least 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with warm maple syrup.