Make-Ahead Cinnamon-Baked French Toast for Christmas Morning

Elizabeth Stark is the blogger behind Brooklyn Supper and a former Yahoo Food Blogger of the Week. Below, she shares the perfect breakfast for a cozy Christmas morning that’s both easy and satisfying.


Photos: Elizabeth Stark

Christmas morning calls for a celebratory breakfast. At the same time, Christmas chaos calls for something simple. At my house, we hit both points effortlessly with make-ahead baked French toast.

I change things up from time to time, subbing in seasonal fruit or spices, but my favorite version is this one: baked French toast with fresh orange zest and juice, a hint of cinnamon, and a dash of Grand Marnier.

Just as with regular French toast, you’ll want to choose a pillowy, eggy bread like brioche or challah. Store-bought orange juice will do the job, but the flavor of fresh-squeezed is a better option. Finally, Grand Marnier isn’t strictly necessary — Cointreau is a nice substitution, as is a single tablespoon of vanilla extract.


Cinnamon Orange Baked French Toast
Serves 5 to 6

1 loaf brioche or challah, crusts removed and cut into ½-inch thick slices
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon orange zest
½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (store-bought will work in a pinch)
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Cointreau (optional; sub 1 tablespoon vanilla extract if omitting)
Orange slices, to serve
Maple syrup, to serve

Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Arrange bread slices so they overlap with one another; the top of each slice should rest the midpoint of the one beside it. Use any scraps to prop up the first slices. (See above picture for reference.)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk to combine eggs, milk, orange zest and juice, sugar, sea salt, cinnamon, and Grand Marnier (or Cointreau or vanilla extract). Pour mixture over bread, pressing each slice gently to ensure it’s completely saturated. Bake immediately or cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake French toast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until egg mixture has set up and edges are golden brown. Serve with orange segments and a drizzle of maple syrup.


More brunch specialties for Christmas morning:

16 Just-Fancy-Enough Breakfast Recipes for Christmas

9 Oozy Egg Recipes for Christmas Breakfast

Overnight Orange Refrigerator Rolls from ‘Food52 Baking’