I love hearing about family food traditions. I’ve heard from several families that they enjoy french toast casserole on Christmas morning. It sounds like such a sweet tradition—opening gifts and enjoying family with a sweet treat and coffee. My own family focuses the cooking efforts on Christmas lunch. We actually french toast casserole for Easter instead!
Now that I’m married, I’m looking forward to starting my own holiday traditions. And I think that this recipe for Banana Bread French Toast Casserole will most certainly make the list.
Similar to regular french toast casserole, you start with bread, milk, and eggs. I added a banana and cinnamon to the mix, and blended everything except the bread in a blender (here’s the one I use). It makes this delightful banana flavored liquid mixture that you’ll pour over the cubed bread before adding sliced bananas and then baking it.
It can be made the night before, or even just 30 minutes before putting it into the oven. It’s honestly so quick that it’d be easy to make in the morning, too.
No french toast casserole is complete without a sweet topping, but I’m skipping the maple syrup here. Instead, I made a quick caramel sauce on the stovetop. There’s just something so perfect about pairing bananas with caramel!
Thankfully, the caramel sauce doesn’t involve a candy thermometer or waiting for just the right temperature. It’s just brown sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, and salt, which you heat until boiling and then let simmer for a few minutes. It’ll get thicker as it comes to room temperature, which is how I like to serve the sauce.
Since the casserole is only lightly sweet (I used just bananas and ½ cup sugar), the sauce is the perfect topping to complement the banana custard soaked bread.
I like to serve the casserole on dessert plates. I put a scant tablespoon of sauce on the bottom of each plate and spread it out, then placed a generous square of the casserole on top. Then I drizzled it with more caramel before serving. You should absolutely pass the caramel sauce around if your guests want more, too!
I served the Banana Bread French Toast Casserole as part of a Southern-inspired brunch with my friend Kelley. I had a Southern banana cream pie (with caramel!) in mind as I created this dish, but I strayed mightily from my original Southern inspiration. Kelley, a Southerner, didn’t seem to mind! She supplied all of the gorgeous chinoiserie dishes for this brunch—I’m so smitten! She also thrifted those fabulous napkins and puts table settings together regularly for her wedding and event planning business, Haviland Events.
Do you have any family food traditions? I’ve love to get some ideas!
Banana Bread French Toast Casserole with Easy Salty Caramel Sauce
For the French Toast Casserole:
- 1 lb loaf French or Italian bread
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 cups whole milk
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Easy Salty Caramel Sauce:
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the bread pudding:
- Cut the bread into 1 inch pieces.
- Place one ripe banana, 2 cups milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a blender. Blend on high until combined.
- Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish. Place the cubed bread in the dish and pour the blended mixture over the top. Use your hands to press down the bread if necessary to ensure it’s submerged in the liquid.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Slice the remaining bananas into ½ inch slices. Arrange banana slices on top of the french toast casserole, pressing them into the casserole slightly with your hands.
- Bake casserole for 30–35 minutes, or until the eggs are just set.
For the caramel sauce:
- Meanwhile, place the brown sugar, ¼ cup milk, butter, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 3–4 minutes. Remove and let cool slightly.
- To serve, cut the french toast casserole into squares. Put a spoonful of caramel sauce on a plate, place the square of french toast casserole on top, and drizzle with additional caramel sauce.