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Pumpkin French Toast Bake

Few things in this world elicit as much as excitement as pumpkin season.  Everywhere you look, it seems like pumpkin is the seasoning of the, well, season.  Combine that with a delicious and traditional breakfast dish like French toast that takes less than 30 minutes to make, and you have a crowd pleasing dish for those frosty holiday mornings.

This pumpkin French toast bake is an easy recipe that is made the night before, so no early morning waking to slave over a hot stove for this scrumptious showpiece! Just get up in time to preheat your oven, pop it in and voila!  Pumpkin perfection.

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 ½ to 7 ½ cups of 1-inch bread cubes (more if you’re using a fluffy and light bread, less if using a more dense bread)

7 large eggs

2 cups of milk (any kind)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

¼ cup pumpkin butter or ½ cup of pumpkin puree

3-4 tablespoons brown sugar for topping

Nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)

First, you’ll want to add the bread to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish. A crusty, whole grain bread will work great, but really any kind will do.  You want enough bread to fill the dish generously, plus up about an inch to an inch and a half.  You’ll know you have the right amount of bread if it soaks up the liquid.  If you need to add more once the liquid is added, feel free or, conversely, if you’ve added too much just remove some.

Next, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, pumpkin butter (or puree) and pie spice in a large bowl until well combined. If you used pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin butter, you may want to compensate for the difference in sweetness and flavor by adding more pumpkin pie spice and a little agave or maple syrup to the batter. This will guarantee the punch of pumpkin you are looking for in this dish.  Pour the batter over the bread and push down with a spoon or your hands until all the liquid is soaked up.  Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover the dish and top with brown sugar, additional pie spice and nuts, if you so desire.  Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown and no longer wet.

Now you are ready to serve!  Maple syrup, honey or agave nectar will make a great compliment to this delicious dish.  You can also store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to a couple of days, but it’s seriously doubtful that any leftovers will exist! Bon Appetit!

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