Ever since I was just a wee little ginger kid I have always loved looking at recipes. Long before the days of food blogs and Pinterest I would have to satisfy my recipe browsing cravings by looking through my moms recipe books over and over again, as well as the few magazines we subscribed to. As much as I enjoyed the assortment of beautifully styled recipes inspired by the season that would fill the glossy pages of our magazines each month, there was actually another recipe resource that I would look forward to the most each year, the annual Dairy Farmers of Canada Milk Calendar that would always hang inside our cupboard in the kitchen. I just loved how each month would feature a recipe that truly reflected the season, not to mention how accessible all of the recipes were, catered to the average Canadian family. I remember getting so excited to be able to flip the calendar to the next page each month, revealing a new and tempting recipe for my family and I to try. Now many years later, my interest in looking at recipes has increased tenfold with so many new ways to access new and interesting recipes. Despite having the ability to access millions of recipes right at my fingertips, I can't help but still get excited whenever that Milk Calendar arrives at our door!
This years Milk Calendar just may be the most exciting of all as the Dairy Farmers of Canada have reached out to real Canadian dairy farmers and their families to offer up some of their favourite recipes featuring the goodness of 100% Canadian milk. I was lucky enough to be apart of a group of food bloggers who were sent an early edition of the calendar, as well as all of the ingredients to make Baked Nutty Berry French Toast from Catherine Agar from Kouwenberg Dairy Inc. With a very busy week, I was unsure of when I would get the opportunity to make this interesting take on a breakfast classic, but with such a simple recipe, with much of it prepared the evening before, it was insanely simple and quick to get this beautiful breakfast on the table. With the bread all puffed up from being soaked overnight and baked in the rich, sweet custard and the vibrant berries bubbling on top, this dish looks absolutely irresistible, and let me tell you, it tasted just as great as it looked! I have to admit that I strayed from the recipe a little by swapping out the fairly thinly sliced multi-grain bread that was sent to me for a thick, eggy challah bread (my favourite for french toast!) and, because my boyfriend didn't own a glass baking dish, I used a dark baking pan instead, lowering the heat by 25º and the cooking time by about 10-minutes. It was so great to wake up all sleepy (and sick with a cold!) knowing that breakfast was already prepared the night before, and all it needed was 30-minutes in the oven! Perfect for feeding a crowd with little effort, I think this recipe may just become a Christmas morning tradition for my family and I!
Recipe by Catherine Agar
6 thick slices bread (about 3/4-inch/2cm)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter, melted, plus more for greasing pan
4 cups mixed berries (thawed and drained if frozen)
- Butter a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish. Arrange bread in a single layer in dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until blended. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400º.
- In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, pecans, and melted butter.
- Spread berries evenly over soaked bread. Sprinkle evenly over the brown sugar and pecan mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bread is puffed in the centre and fruit is bubbling.
- Serve immediately with maple syrup.