morning bread pudding with salted caramel

We should really talk about this. Promise you won’t get mad, okay? I came across this for the first time twelve years ago. I’ve been blogging here for almost eight years, which means I had ample time to tell you about and just didn’t. (I kinda feel like a kid right now who forgot to mention that they were flunking Spanish until report cards came out. I’m sooo grounded.) It gets worse. I finally made it on New Years Day for brunch and it was promptly declared one of the best things I’ve ever made, which is kind of rude. I mean, the lasagna bolognese can hear you! I still didn’t tell you about it, reasoning that it is Not Acceptable to talk about carbs, fat and refined sugar in the time of Resolutions. And then, late in January, we had another brunch and I made it again and still I held out. Sheesh, even I think I’m kind of a jerk right now.

mixed citrus salad
and also spinach strata, blood orange mimosas and bloody marys

Enough is enough. If you think it about it, it was always just a matter of time before two of this site’s great loves — French toast, or if you wanna be fancy, morning bread pudding, and salted butter caramel — got together to become something greater than the sum of their parts. This is basically French toast destiny.

getting ready to make caramel

bubbling sugar and butter, getting darker
perfect caramel

Thus, here’s the next thing I need to tell you: There are only two ways to make French toast; the way you made it before you read about this and the way you’ll make it for now on. The first way has nothing to be ashamed of; there’s bread, it’s dipped, it’s fried, and then there’s often some sort of sweet syrup. It’s all good and well. If you love it like it has always been, there’s no reason to change your course. However. If a salted butter caramel upside-down faintly tangy bread pudding of a French toast casserole sounds good to you, if you think French toast styled like a tarte tatin might be nice, if you think you’d prefer homemade caramel sauce over sticky bottled syrup — that is, I suspect, if you have taste buds — it will be hard to go back to the old way after this and nobody around here minds at all.

sliced challah
arranging the bread
arranged all pretty, but a little tall
mascarpone, oops, don't read the label
eggs, milk + mascarpone
ready for an overnight soak
morning bread pudding, from the oven
morning bread pudding with salted caramel
morning bread pudding

P.S. As of the moment I hit publish, I’m on a tiny vacation, thus comment responses will be a little slow through the weekend.

Served with: During one brunch, we served this with the Spinach Strata, bacon, a mixed citrus salad, blood orange mimosas and Bloody Marys. For the second, we served it with a triple-batch of the Baked Eggs with Mushrooms and Spinach, bacon and My Favorite Buttermilk Biscuits.

One year ago: Coconut Bread
Two years ago: Soft Eggs with Buttery Herb-Gruyere Toasts
Three years ago: Pina Colada Cake
Four years ago: Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint-White Chocolate Cream
Five years ago: Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage
Six years ago: Pear and Almond Tart
Seven years ago: Vegetable Dumplings

Morning Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel
Adapted from The New York Times, 12/19/01

This recipe is from none other than Food52 co-founder Amanda Hesser, back in her earlier New York Times days. (I clipped almost everything she cooked back then. #fangirl) It hails from the same article about holiday breakfasts as the winter fruit salad I shared here years ago. Yes, I basically skipped past this caramel/marscarpone/butter/challah glory for a fruit salad. I can be such a bore sometimes. I suspect I was fearful of it because I thought it would be unbearably sweet and unbreakfast-like, but for me, the beauty of it — well, aside from the actual messy beauty of it — is that it’s not. I ended up removing the 2 tablespoons sugar in the bread part to increase the contrast provided between the faintly tangy bread and the well-rounded sweetness of the dark caramel lid. My other changes were some added quantity and baking vessel notes and a couple tiny ingredient tweaks (salting the caramel for modern times, streamlining the fancy dairy products), plus some notes of warning about the caramel. Finally, Hesser calls for 1/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds to be sprinkled on the bread 15 minutes into the baking time but I never bother.

If you can’t get mascarpone, creme fraiche would be ideal here. It doesn’t just enrich the batter and add a faint tang, it serves as the dreamiest dollop on served wedges. Sour cream would theoretically work too, but won’t be as rich and smooth once heated. I used whole milk, but suspect low-fat would work just fine here.

This is an overnight dish, ideally. Set it up before you go to bed and all you have to do when you wake up is bake it and invert it onto a serving dish. The longer is soaks, the more the bread and custard become one, but nevertheless, I think as long as it has an hour to soak, it will be good enough.

Serves 6 generous or 8 to 10 if other items are on the table. Estimate 1 hour prep time and then about 30 or so minutes baking time in the morning.

3/4 cup plus (optional) 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon flaky sea salt or just 2 or 3 pinches of a coarse one
10 to 12-ounce loaf brioche or challah bread (cut into slices about 1/2-inch thick and about 3 inches square or round, which sounds really persnickety, but they really do fit better in the pan this way)
8 large eggs
1 cup mascarpone cheese, divided (1/4 cup for custard; 3/4 cup for serving)
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

First, choose your baking vessel. I opted for a 2-quart oval gratin/roasting dish, but also tested this in a 9-inch round cake pan (it was a squeeze; 10-inch would have been better). Other things I suspect would work: 9- to 10-inch cast iron skillet, 2-quart casserole dish or 1 deep-dish pie pan (what Hesser suggests).

If your vessel is safe for the stovetop, use this to make the caramel. If not, use a small, heavy saucepan. In either, place 3/4 cup sugar, butter and sea salt and heat over medium heat. The butter will melt and, after 7 to 10 minutes, the sugar will dissolve and begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir with a spoon or spatula so that it browns evenly. You will find that the butter separates from the melting sugar and this is just fine. Do your best to keep them stirred together but know that it will all work out in the end even if it’s split.

If you’re using a saucepan, your caramel is done when it reaches a copper color. Pour it over the base of your baking vessel and try (I failed each time) to tip it 1-inch up the sides of the dish.

If you’re making the caramel in your final baking vessel, your caramel should be taken off the stove a step sooner, a shade more pale than copper, something of a medium brown; this is because it will continue cooking and darkening for a minute off the stove.

Regardless of baking vessel, place dish in refrigerator and chill until caramel is cold and solid, about 30 minutes. Once chilled, arrange the bread slices. Place the heel of the bread in the center and do what you can to fan the slices around it, overlapping each slightly and knowing with complete confidence that even if your dish doesn’t resemble a blooming rose, nobody will care at all.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (if using; I skipped this) and 1/4 mascarpone cheese (save rest for serving), until very smooth. Add milk and almond extract. Pour this over the bread, making sure to saturate all of it. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill overnight. If you bread seems too high in the vessel to get a good soak, you can weight it with a plate in the fridge.

In the morning, [updated to suggest] take your dish from the fridge an hour before you want to bake it. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove plastic from dish and bake 30 to 35 minutes, until moist but not wet in center. Remove from oven and run a knife around edge of dish, loosening bread from sides. Place a serving plate over top of dish (bottom side up), and, using potholders, hold pudding over sink and flip pudding onto it. Lift baking dish off plate; scrape any extra caramel from pie dish over pudding. Serve, cutting it into wedges at the table and spooning a healthy dollop of mascarpone onto each plate.

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225 comments on morning bread pudding with salted caramel

  1. Holy Yummo! This sounds and looks so amazingly delicious. I want it right this instant! You’re amazing and I won’t hold the delay of this post against you for sheer yumminess.

  2. Elaine

    OMG, this looks amazing! I am 40+ weeks pregnant and going a bit nuts with the waiting. You’ve just answered the question, “What am I going to do this morning to distract myself?”

  3. Marie

    I’m having birthday celebrations tonight, with people to stay over. I’m taking the afternoon off to tidy and prepare, and I am definitely going to prep this for tomorrow morning! This couldn’t come at a more perfect time, thank you so much. I’ll be replacing with lacto-free everything so I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. Sharon

    Looks excellent!
    For those of us with little cooking intuition but lots of kitchen gadgets, could you give the temperature the caramel needs to reach when it turns a copper color and needs to be taken off the stove?
    Many thanks and enjoy your vacation!

  5. Jillian L

    This looks incredible!! I was thinking of trying to use the apple caramel recipe instead of the plain caramel here, do you think it would work? I hope your tiny vacation is away from the cold weather that issupposed to be hitting the East coast Monday/Tuesday!!

  6. Jenny

    This looks amazing. My family are usually very enthusiastic about the American recipes I try out on them but I think my mum and my gran would stage an intervention if I tried to eat salted butter caramel and mascarpone in the morning, even as brunch. But as a dessert this looks delicious and I’ll definitely try it.

  7. JP

    Really looks so delicious and I am always looking for something new for breakfast or brunch. This will be a treat! Can only make so many chunky monkey pancakes, after all!

  8. That looks so amazing! My son is allergic to uncooked eggs, so he can’t have french toast the normal way because too much egg is left uncooked. But with it going in the oven, he could probably have this! What a fancy breakfast this will make!

  9. You’re the queen of brunch dishes, Deb! I love that you have plenty of main dish options *and* plenty of dessert-y recipes, too. The decadence of this bread pudding is actually convincing me to plan my next brunch right now! Thank you! :)

  10. Nicole

    This looks delicious!! Really want to try it now! I’m also thinking how yummy it would be with apple and cinnamon or banana on top of the caramel yum yum!

  11. Alia

    Thanks for this. Looks divine. Canadian here–so, i’m obviously going to make a parody of myself and ask, is there a way you think one could incorporate maple syrup into the caramel? (Real maple syrup–not crappy plastic bottle maple flavoured “table” syrup.) A partial sugar replacement ratio perhaps? Also, it looks like you mentioned the cheese twice in the ingredients.

  12. My family and I are bread pudding fanatics: we order it for breakfast, dessert, and between. We have made it with stale bread, fresh baguettes, croissants, donuts, and everything else you can think of… except challah!

    This is one to put on the list for sure!

  13. Yet another Anna

    I remember that fruit salad, it’s a standby for me now. (I kinda modify it, just making a smaller amount of the flavored syrup and only using pears, but still, delicious. Makes a fabulous cobbler, too.)

  14. This is a perfectly timed recipe, as I was just brainstorming a special breakfast to make and this looks incredible. I love that I can make it the night before too (not much of an early bird). Thank you!

  15. Sarah

    Deb, would you mind sharing what went into that citrus salad? I just got 10 grapefruits and 7 blood oranges and two sweet limes because I fall in love with citrus easily (and live in California so it was $4). Was the dressing anything special to cut the acidity? Honey, mint? I’d love to know. Thanks, and enjoy your vacation!

  16. Tonya

    Oh my. I will be making this during the weekend, and then, if my fiance loves it (which I’m sure he will, he loves everything), I will be making it again next Friday to take to my future in-laws house. I can’t wait to make it and see all of the above’s faces when they put it in their mouths!! :)

  17. TriciaPDX

    If you don’t mind that the bread isn’t a perfect rosette with fat petals, could you use presliced bread? I’m thinking about Dave’s Killer Bread here in Portland, maybe the spelt bread. It could be a compromise with the sugar rush of salted caramel and the evil carbs of white flour challah. Whole grains would be good for you instead! And would add more nutty flavor to the dish. Then you would deserve TWO servings.

  18. Susan

    This is brilliant! This is like my favorite two things…sticky buns and monkey bread in casserole form. I can’t wait to try this. You devil..12 years? What were you thinking?

  19. Ashley

    Long time fan, first time commenter. One quick question – what risks are run in regards to the caramel sticking to the baking pan when you try to flip it over? I’m just imagining this sticking to my cast iron pan and needing a chisel to get it out. Any real worry there, or is the (delicious, beautiful, browned) butter in the caramel enough to alleviate that fear?

  20. Thefoxwithnosocks

    Have I ever told you that your brunch recipes make me wish for brunch at EVERY SINGLE MEAL? Cause they do. Keep on keepin’ Deb, this is going on the growing list of Sunday brunch things that need trying.

  21. Amy P

    So far when I’ve tried baked french toast it’s often dry on the edges/top. For me, there should be nothing ‘toasty’ about my french toast – it should be uniformly soft and moist although not wet, of course. Does this one dry out on top? Should I be covering my baked french toast? Adding more custard part way through? What does one do so they don’t have to crunch their french toast?

  22. Zoë

    I can’t stand almond extract, even the organic pure stuff I have still tastes fake to me. Would I be okay leaving it out? Or swapping for vanilla?

  23. Dalnapen

    SK, Happy vacay! Rest! I wondered if you would sometime explain the differences in fromage frais, fromage blanc, creme fraiche, farmers cheese and etc. Of course regionality or country of origin would explain some differences, but how should one think of them when it comes to cooking?

  24. Barb

    I recently advertised cognac improved, french toasted croissant at home and now everybody is asking me when it is going to happen. I think I rather wont advertise this one or I wont get much morning sleep these days. But here is what we are doing at home very often. We skip milk and sugar and just beat few eggs with a pinch of salt and put old bread in the eggs mixture (but not really leave it there to soak). Then we deep fry it in lard and eat it with ketchup or mustard. I now that it is not the traditional way to do it in US at least from the laugh my mom had when my American brother-in-law asked her for peanut butter and jelly to go with it, but it is definitely worth a try.

  25. This recipe looks absolutely to die for!! I can’t wait to whip this up for my next brunch date with the girls! I can see us all now, stuffing ourselves until we’re certain there’s not a drop that goes to waste.

    Thanks for sharing, and have a lovely weekend!

    xo Elle

  26. Molly

    Karl S. and Dalnapen, I bet the reference to 3/4c of fromage was an accidental carryover from the original recipe and should just be omitted. Deb mentions that she tweaked it to streamline out the fancy dairy, so I guess that supermarket mascarpone is the only cheese that made the cut.

  27. Ann

    OMG! I just made your Cinnamon toast french toast for a brunch I went to last week. While that dish went over very well, this would have stunned them into speechlessness!

  28. Laur

    This *may* make me break my “The cast iron pan is ONLY for pancakes!” rule…
    But I noticed at the top that its been 3 years!!! since the Pina Colada Cake recipe in which you so teasingly promised your Pina Colada ratio, and I’m fairly sure you have yet to deliver… and right now with this Vortex-y weather, I’d love to make some and pretend I’m on a beach! Can you help out a frozen Montrealer? :D

  29. First time commenter, several year blog reader.

    Okay, it’s funny you mention the Lasagna Bolognese as best ever recipe. It’s the only recipe I’ve made from here that I was disappointed in. You are my go to source for everyday recipes, fun recipes, different recipes, holiday recipes, and more and more, kid recipes.

    Excited about this one – as I am for all of them….Thanks for a recipe I can do in my skillet.

    You rock!

  30. Jessica

    MORNING bread pudding! This will be very dangerous, but I will do it as soon as possible :).
    Can one replace the homemade caramel with salted french caramel sauce (creme salidou)? I have a problem with my hands so I stay away from making things(out of experience) that can cause bad burns.

  31. Caitlin

    I have never heard of that way to make French Toast. It is very interesting to learn about different ways to prepare familiar foods. Also, I am the sixtieth person to comment. What up?

  32. MB

    Oh my… Now I need to find some friends to invite around for a Mardi Gras Brunch – stat! Thanks for the idea… And, really it’s ok you hid this from us for so long :)

  33. jeri

    I can’t believe my two favorite desserts (bread pudding and flan) got married and no one told me! If they think I’m sending them a present they are sadly mistaken, but I’m a hopeless romantic, so I will be inviting them for brunch ASAP. Seriously, this looks amazing, and I can’t wait to try it.

  34. Eve

    I’ve made your cinnamon toast french toast, which was amazing, so I’ll definitely have to try this one. Do you think I could substitute Greek yogurt for the mascarpone?

  35. Rachel

    Hi Deb, I really like the idea of making this in a cast iron skillet, but I have the same concerns as Ashley (#42) plus I thought there was a rule in which no cast iron skillet should ever go in a fridge…? Maybe in this instance it’s somehow okay? Would love a little reassurance! =)

  36. esmee

    Wow. I’m not even up yet and I can’t wait to dig into this! Deb, just a couple questions. 1. Do you let it cool at all when you take it out of the oven before inverting onto the serving plate? 2. If I prep two at the same time, do you think one would freeze well? Thanks! It just looks SO decadently delicious!

  37. Ginny

    Being a wise m-i-l, I gave my d-i-l your cookbook as a Christmas gift a year ago after it first came out. Thus, I have been treated to many of the wonderful delights between the covers of said cookbook when I visit. I am forwarding this e-mail to her so that she can have all the ingredients on hand for my next visit ;-) But, I think I’d prefer vanilla over almond extract if you are reading this, Karen. Can’t wait till she makes it! A perfect Christmas morning fare, but really don’t want to wait that long.

  38. Esmee

    Okay — it’s in the fridge waiting to be breakfast! It looks amazing! :) Perfect start to the Oscars Sunday, too :)

  39. msue

    And here I sit, so wanting to Make. This. Right. Now., and I don’t have all the ingredients. And it is sleeting outside, with plummeting temps, and more bad weather on the way. I’ll have to dream about whilst making a shopping list for the next outing once it warms up. Such agony.

  40. Amy

    I made it this morning and it was delicious, but I so wanted a little crispity crunch on top. A wonder what would happen if it were cooked at a higher heat? Put under the broiler after the flip?

  41. This recipe sounds delicious. Have you tried to add a bit of citric acid (lemon juice, lime juice or orange juice) to the caramel? Just a few drops are enough to make that the butter will not separate of the sugar. Furthermore, if you add a bit more drops of juice you can prevent the caramel from getting really hard, it will stay as a gooey sauce. I will give a try to your pudding. Good luck!

  42. Lynda

    Okay. I was so excited to make this – it looked delicious, as your recipes always do. I am such a HUGE fan of smittenkitchen and have made many, many, MANY absolutely fabulous dishes from your site. But….this one was a disappointment. It’s not your recipe – I think it was me. First, I couldn’t get challah or brioche at my grocery store. So I used a country italian bread instead. Then, I’m pretty sure I overcooked the caramel, but didn’t realize that until we ate it – it had a slightly burned taste which took away from the sweetness. Then, the eggy-mascarpone mixture in the bread was kind of…not very exciting. We ended up putting maple syrup on each serving and it was good except for the topping which i think i inadvertently ruined. However, I will not be beaten by this recipe – i see someone else made it and said they loved it. So next time, I think I will first not burn the topping, and maybe add something sweet-ish to the eggy mixture, like a little maple syrup or something. I didn’t add the extra sugar in the mixture, because you didn’t, and we don’t tend to love things that are extra sweet. So there you have it. Thoughts?

  43. Elana

    Hi assembled this yesterday and baked this am. Fabulous. Made 1/2 recipe bc had 1/2 loaf brioche already. Used sour cream bc didn’t have creme fraiche or mascarpone and used vanilla ext bc not a fan of almond extract. Cooked for just shy of 20 min (bc 1/2 recipe). Rachel (70) and Ashley (42) — made in my 10 inch cast iron skillet and no problem. The caramel softens in the oven and pours right out. Served with combo sweetened whip cream/ sour cream and fresh strawberries. For anyone interested here’s a similar recipe I’ve made for brunch before. Also good:

  44. Jenn

    Wow that was amazing… It’s a pretty forgiving dish to be honest, though, so even with rock hard leftover ciabatta from last night and custard just made from eggs and milk (and, um, Bailey’s), it was still seriously rich without the sweeter bread or marscapone. I did chuck some toasted almonds on top (and only flipped half of each serving, so crunchy topping and caramel topping for a bit of contrast). It soaked for about an hour, so made a totally OTT dessert for Sunday lunch… yeah, we’re British and just can’t do pudding for breakfast :-)

  45. Jenny

    I was so excited to make this but mine didn’t turn out – the caramel sauce turned into one big hard circle rather than melting. Should I have brought the dish up to room temp after taking it out of the fridge before baking it?

  46. Andi

    This was delicious, but a word of warning. When flipping the dish some of the hot caramel fell onto my finger, where it promptly adhered. Now have an unbelievably painful, blistering second degree burn! Be care folks!

  47. Jesse

    Made this for brunch today and it was tasty, but my caramel was rock hard at the bottom of the pan – what did I do wrong? I saw someone suggest that you add citric acid to the caramel to prevent from going hard. I used a glass pie dish did that have anything to do with it? suggestions appreciated!

  48. Jessica

    AWESOME! I sliced bananas and put a layer between the caramel and bread. YUM! @Jesse – I think maybe you didn’t cook the caramel long enough on the stovetop.

  49. Vihangi

    Hi! I’m 15 years old and I freaking love your recipes!! My mom’s birthday is coming on and I wanted to know if you can make a tiny menu out of your favourite recipes….Only if it’s not a big hassle….

    I really hope you see this, because I can’t pick my favourite recipes from all of this…

    Thanx! <3

  50. Ashley

    Thanks Elana! Glad to hear that there weren’t any issues for you! I’m making a note for when I make this next weekend.

  51. LeslieH

    This was really good and relatively easy to make. I’ll be using cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans and fresh apple slices next time because I think that would make it even better! The mascarpone melting over the top made it sinfully delicious.

  52. French toast, bread pudding and caramel all rolled into one delicious casserole…what’s not to love? Your pictures are beautiful. I’m definitely making this one soon. It looks delicious!

  53. Sarah

    Hi Deb! I’d love to make this for my sister’s bridal shower, but would need to make it a full 24 hours in advance. Do you think it would be too soggy if left to set for that long in advance?

    1. deb

      Citrus salad — My plan had been to toss mixed citrus segments (navel orange, cara cara orange, blood orange, grapefruit) with some mint leaves, lime juice but I just put out the segments. I didn’t think it needed anything sweet but if yours feels too tart, I’m sure a spoonful of honey would do the trick. It took FOREVER for me to segment that massive amount of fruit so, you know, just to warn you. Here’s a mixed citrus salad from the archives that you might also like.

      Jillian — I think the apple cider caramel would be delicious but I don’t think you want the cream in here because it will keep the caramel lid from getting as hard.

      Sharon — I didn’t check the temperature but you can really just check the color here. Because you’re not trying to make it into candies or spun sugar, the temperature isn’t as important as the color.

      Sarah — No, I think it would be just fine at 24 hours.

      Esther — That’s a good tip about separating. However, ideally the caramel will get fully hard here, or it might dissolve into the custard. It will be soft after baking.

      Zoe — Yes, you can replace the almond extract with vanilla or even vanilla bean.

      Amy — If it’s dry, it didn’t soak long enough or didn’t have enough custard. This wouldn’t be dry on top, however; it would have caramel on top instead.

      Ashley — Caramel should only stick when it is cold. When it is hot from the oven, it should be runny. Whatever sticks to the pan should just be gloopy and can be scraped back on top of the French toast.

      Re, cast iron skillet — I have never, ever heard that you cannot put one in the fridge. Have definitely done it before without a problem.

      Nicole — Ha! Well, I was deeply opposed to serving it with the spinach strata because bread + bread = gross, but my sister is allergic to mushrooms, so the spinach-mushroom dish was out and I was too tired (it was New Year’s Eve, after all, when I prepped everything) to make something clever, new and bread-free. I stand behind the biscuits, though; they go well with the spinach/mushroom/eggs.

      Fromage blanc/fromage frais — Ooops! That shouldn’t have been there. As Molly already pieced together, the original recipe called for 1/4 cup mascarpone plus 3/4 cup fromage blanc or frais, which is all good and well but it felt silly to me to buy two very specialized (in the U.S. at least, where you can get them, but not in most stores) types of dairy when mascarpone made an excellent, excellent topping. I actually bought both and kicked myself immediately. Didn’t even get through the fromage blanc before it went bad.

      Dalnapen — You got it! Do know, this is mostly from Google. I don’t keep this all in my head. ;)

      creme fraiche — a very rich, soft slightly soured triple-cream (for comparison, our heavy/whipping creams are double creams)
      farmers cheese — aka pot cheese, closest to cottage cheese but firmer, usually sold in soft blocks, with a very tiny curd; usually pretty low in fat
      fromage blanc — consistency of thick yogurt, a bit tart, a bit higher in fat than fromage frais. No live cultures.
      fromage frais — “white cheese,” also known as maquée, closer to a quark or slighly curd-ed cheese, still creamy, with a consistency closer to cream cheese but with less fat. Has to contain live active cultures (as yogurt does) at time of sale.
      mascarpone — another triple-cream cheese, something like a mixture of creme fraiche and ricotta, thick enough to be spooned or spread, but soft

  54. karen on the coast

    Deb, I was SOOOO worried when I didnt see any whipped cream in the first, third and last pix, but sooooo relieved when I saw it mentioned at the end of the directions with the admonishment of **spooning a healthy dollop** over the serving.
    Im thinking that may require the use of a ladle in order to follow your directions precisely!! :-))
    My REAL question is about serving a coffee that would do this dish justice. Any preferences or recommendations?? Not necessarily looking for a brand, but rather
    the type of bean and roasting used. I havent nailed that yet…thanks!
    Your recipes so far this year have been just ace!!

  55. Teresa Chaves

    I made it, following the recipe to the letter, and it was nothing short than amazing. The only change I’ll make next time is not to use almond extract; unless you really like it, don’t use it. The flavor is really strong even after baking, and it is a bit overpowering. Even so, it was a hit with the family and there’s absolutely nothing left. Thank you so much for another amazing recipe.

  56. Gasp! Horror! 12 years and we only finding out about this NOW?! lol All’s forgiven since you came clean and shared anyway. Looks really good. I want to make this for my hubby’s birthday. He’s gonna love it!

  57. Jenny

    Hi Deb! Any thoughts on why both Jesse (92) and I both had the caramel sauce turn out rock hard? We both used glass pans, could that be why? Or should I have brought the dish up to room temp after taking it out of the fridge before baking? If I can solve the mystery I want to try again when my in-laws visit next weekend! Thanks so much.

    1. deb

      Hard caramel — No, I cannot figure out why this happened, how caramel could come out of a hot oven for 30 minutes and still not be soft! Definitely worth trying leaving the dish out while warming up the oven. As for glass dishes, I’m not sure if this would be the culprit, but when baking in them, the oven should always be 25 degrees less than recommended for a regular (usually metal) baking pan. I hope that helps.

  58. Sue

    I know this sounds silly, but do you think this would work with egg whites instead of whole eggs? I’d like to make this for my parents, but for health reasons they only keep pasteurized egg whites in the house.

    1. deb

      Sue — I’m not confident that it would. To make something soft and custard-like, you usually need yolks. Egg whites might make it meringue-ish.

  59. Helen

    My caramel too came out hard as a rock :( Also I don’t know if my bread to egg ratio was wrong (even weighed my bread) but it was overly eggy and gooey and didn’t really turn out. Unfortunately it went straight to the garbage which is a first for a smittenkitchen recipe. I think maybe I did something wrong?

  60. Itihas

    Oh my god I think you’ve just solved one of my longstanding culinary mysteries.
    There’s a savory egg-bread-breakfast thing you can buy in stalls and canteens in most Indian cities – you call it a bread omelet, and you basically just embed a piece of bread in a thin, crepe-ish omelet. You wrap the omelet periphery around the bread, and if you’ve done it right it sticks that way without leaving uncooked goo anywhere. (And, of course, salt and spice it like the roadside vice it is.) I’ve been trying to figure out a sweet version for a while, but the crisp outer edges and soft-but-not-wet-bread insides just weren’t as awesome when sugar was involved. A drizzle of salted butter caramel and a layer of mascarpone on the bread might just be the answer. I’m going to try it as soon as I can.

  61. Rooney

    Just made this dish. Super delicious, and quite easy to make. I used an iron skillet for the oven cooking part. Some of the caramel at the bottom of the skillet did not cook up to the desired gooey consistency. Hence, I will cook it just a bit longer next time (may not be necessary if using a thinner pie pan). Nonetheless, a keeper of a recipe.

  62. miss vicky

    Hi Deb,
    I’m a long-time silent fan, and this is the first of your recipes that didn’t turn out perfectly for me. As some of the other readers mentioned as well, my caramel went rock-hard, but I think there was something wrong with it even before I put it in the (glass, interestingly enough) pie dish. It was kind of lumpy, and the sugar separated completely from the butter. Also, the sugar seemed not to have dissolved completely. I feel like I followed your instructions to a tee, but any idea what could have gone wrong? Thanks!

  63. Janice

    I also am one of those long time silent fans and like a few others mentioned earlier, my caramel came out hard. Actually about 10% of it liquefied and the rest of it became a hard shell. We decided to eat it anyway and found that the caramel was not “break your teeth” hard, just crunchy. The dish was good and I would love to make it again. Cooking the caramel to a copper color is subjective so I wonder if I cooked it too long? I looked at other salted caramel sauces and they all include cream or milk. Would one of these recipes work for this dish?

    1. deb

      Those with hard caramel in the pan — As there are several of you and I don’t want this to keep happening, I’m going to guess that it would benefit for the pan to warm up a bit between the fridge and the oven and I’m going to update the recipe to suggest taking it out an hour before you want to bake it. I really hope that solves the problem. In fact, I’m realizing in hindsight that I might have done this without thinking (because fridge space is tight and no way I can fit all the dishes I need for brunch in at once) at least one of the times I made it. I’m sorry for any trouble.

  64. April

    Made this today, amazing! My house still smells all sweet and warm! I added pecans, didn’t soak the bread in the egg mixture overnight (but did soak for about 45 minutes), and used a day-old baguette. I made the whole thing in my oven-proof skillet. Time-consuming for a breakfast, but easy enough. And the reward is just delicious.

  65. Erin

    Made this for brunch today. Spectacular! I recommend running a knife around the edge of the dish to loosen the bread pudding before you invert it. Some of my caramel stayed hard and unmelted, although there was certainly enough melted to provide sufficient sauce. This is totally going into my brunch repertoire – and will be a standard holiday addition. It’s so decadent and indulgent. Thanks for sharing, Deb!

  66. EmmaB

    I made this for brunch this morning and it was just okay. I think I overcooked it as I was worried about the comments about it being gooey and it was quite rubbery. It wasn’t overly sweet, which I thought it might be and so I might try it again and be a bit braver about the timings. When I thought it was done I put it back for another 5 minutes and this was my mistake I think. The blood orange margaritas that we served with this were stunning though!

  67. Nizar

    This may be a silly question. But where do you buy your bread? I know you don’t need fresh bread for a bread pudding, but I struggle to find a good bakery in NYC. The only place in my area (Williamsburg) is a hipster bakery with subpar bread. I’m willing to cross the river for a good loaf!

  68. Helen


    It might have needed more time but I think I added quite a bit of time to the original cook time. I really felt that maybe it was a ratio issue. A few things that maybe I did wrong….

    1. I made fresh home made challah so maybe it wasn’t “dry” enough to absorb the egg
    2. I used a glass pie dish, so maybe that was the hard caramel problem?

    My version certainly looked a lot more eggy than yours.. so as I mentioned, I think that my ratio was off.

  69. Allison

    Gluten Free Version!

    I tried it with gluten free bread the famous kind with three letters, didn’t work out at ALL. Tried it again twice both times with plain vanilla gluten free muffins made them at home out of a box. I made the muffin version once with greek youghert with a pinch of almond paste in it, and once with marscapone. I liked the greek youghert version MUCH BETTER, it came out smoother and lighter.

    Hope this helps anyone else that is GF.

  70. ladotyk

    I wonder if the issues people had with hard caramel has more to do with how long the caramel was cooked versus the kind of baking dish. I made a batch of caramel and I think I cooked it longer than I should have. It turned out rather runny and I was easily able to get it to go up 1″ or more around the whole perimeter of the pan. It set up quickly at room temp into a hard shell, no need to cool it to get it to harden. I got suspicious after reading some reviews about rock-hard caramel after baking, so I decided to start over with a new batch. This time I took it off sooner and the texture was much more thick and “rubbery”. I was not able to get it to go up the sides of the pan at all before it thickened. After baking with the second batch, it turned out nice and gooey just like I hoped. I’m curious, did those who had the hard caramel issue find their consistency when pouring into the pan to be more on the runny or the thick side?

  71. Mary

    ladotyk, I think you may be on to something. My caramel was hardening at room temperature and the butter never re-incorporated itself – it’s a layer of caramel with butter on top. I just finished assembly and popped it in the fridge – I’ll post tomorrow with the results!

  72. Mary

    First, and most importantly, this was delicious! Caramel wasn’t rock hard, but I do think I over-cooked it as it was clumpy and chewy. Must use a lower heat next time…

  73. Becca

    This is scary good. I had to improvise a little, based on what I had, or didn’t have, on hand-sour cream for mascarpone, too few eggs. Didn’t seem to matter. I surgically removed myself from the kitchen so I wouldn’t eat any more. Next time, I think I’ll add some chopped pecans to the caramel.

  74. Made this yesterday, and am trying to keep myself from eating a slice for every meal. The caramel softened just like you said it would, and we ate it with generous smears of mascarpone. DH said, “I think that every bad cinnamon roll in the world was just trying to be this.”

  75. Jessica Faust

    I had this sitting in my inbox because I’ve been dying to check it out. I finally did and I am giddy. This will be so easy for me to make GF which is never easy when it comes to gooey breakfast treats!

  76. Michelle

    Yikes, Problems with my caramel, too. Ended up a grainy mess. I’m going ahead in spite of that because I need to use up that loaf of challah and it’s on it’s last legs. A bit of internet searching and I discovered caramel sauce is a lot fussier than I assumed from the directions. Usually the instructions here are specific. Details to get it right next time, please!

  77. Sam

    Hailing from Louisiana, I’m strongly in favor of bourbon in my bread pudding. But I’ve never made one with caramel sauce–could you recommend any particular alcohol? Or would you not booze it up for this particular bread pudding?

    I’m going to a brunch soon and would LOVE to bring this along! Thanks!

    1. deb

      Sam — I’d probably be more likely to add it to the custard (eggs + milk) than I would to the caramel, where it might get lost. I don’t think this needs booze, but I am sure a little splash of an almond liqueur or bourbon wouldn’t taste bad.

  78. Jennifer

    Caramel never got smoothed out–grainy crusty separated look . . . but I forge ahead, hoping that grainy crusty will turn into crusty sugary delicious when I cook it tomorrow morning. Lower heat next time, check. Web search next time, check.

  79. Katherine

    I made this today as a test run for a brunch I’m hosting on Saturday — I left it out of the fridge for well over an hour…and still had rock hard caramel. I live in Stockholm and have had trouble with toffee/caramel recipes in the past that work fine when I’m in my kitchen in New York and then don’t work at all here in Sweden — I think its the butter. Any tips on how I can overcome this hard topping problem for my Saturday brunch? Its so delicious despite the rock hard topping, so I would love to make it work!

  80. Rebecca

    I can’t believe I missed this! I”m so glad I had some down time to cruise your recipes again, Deb. Totally making this this long weekend! Thanks for the deliciousness!

  81. Sabine

    I made this for a ladies brunch a couple of weekends ago and it was a HUGE hit! Everybody loved it. I cooked it in a ceramic cazuela pan that I picked up here in Spain (about 9 inches). I let it come to room temperature before baking for about 2 hours on the counter. I had absolutely no issues with hard carmel. It was perfection. I just made it an hour ago for a brunch tomorrow and I foolishly put the whole cup of creme fraiche (didnt have marscapone this time!) in the egg mixture and realized my mistake right after I mixed it all in. I added only a 1/2 C milk instead of a full in hopes to even out my mistake. I’ll see how it comes out tomorrow. Here’s to hoping it isn’t too tart or that the consistency is screwy…..pregnancy brain in full effect right now.

  82. Danielle

    I made this last Friday for my mom because she loves all things bread and breakfasty and it turned out wonderfully! I used a loaf of Italian bread because it’s hard to find challah or brioche near where I live, and it still came out really yummy! I also refrigerated it overnight and baked it immediately from the fridge and had no problems with the hardened caramel :) this ones a definite keeper ! Thanks!

  83. Jess

    I made this last weekend and it was fantastic! I was very nervous about the rock hard caramel that happened to some reviewers. I used a casserole baking dish and took it out of the fridge and let it sit out for an hour before baking.

    When I made the caramel it was on the runny side and went up the sides of the dish fairly easily. There was some thicker caramel that remained on the bottom of the dish. Mine also nearly solidified at room temp, the caramel on the sides became hard and it only took a few minutes in the fridge to completely firm up (although I left it in the fridge for the full 30 min.) During baking, it softened up and bubbled through. Hope that helps the people having a panic attack midway through like me!

  84. Gegp2000

    Made this today for my coworkers (yes, I love them!). It was a HUGE hit!And I’m in France, where people are particularly picky about what they eat. It was very easy to bake, and had such an intense and satisfying flavor. I’m a big fan, will do it again soon!

  85. KNB

    Hi Deb, I’m planning to make this for a brunch next weekend. Wondering about substituting the bread. I live in a city with very little “variety” available, so I’d have to make the brioche/challah myself first, just to chop it up and pour goo all over it. Could I perhaps use French bread or something more available where I live? Or is there something about the texture of the egg breads that work best here?

  86. Jenna

    This recipe will be my contribution to Easter brunch this year – I did a test run yesterday and accidentally ate half of it before pawning it off on my husband and his fellow grad students. I didn’t have almond extract so I used a bit of bourbon in the batter.Needless to say, it was amazing.

  87. Jordan Riley

    I just made this and it turned out… weird. I had some old baguettes to use up, so I made it with those instead, which I think threw off the liquid:bread ratio. I also have a convection oven, so I lowered the temp a bit, but I ended up having to bake it for probably 45-50 minutes (covering with foil after half an hour to keep the top from getting to dark) to get to a point where the eggs were no longer liquid. It was still very wet, though tolerably so. (I like my bread pudding soft anyway.) The excess liquid at the bottom sort of mixed with the caramel and turned into a soft custard layer. Still tasty, but kind of weird. Also, I found it really hard to get the mascarpone (well, fromage frais) mixed smoothly with the eggs by hand–next time, I’ll probably mix it with just one egg at first, and then slowly add the others.

    Moral of the story: listen to Deb–use brioche, and find another use for the old baguettes!

  88. Kate

    Made this today for Easter brunch today. Last night the carmel did turn rock hard when I poured it in the metal cake pan I was using so it didn’t get quite to the edges of the pan let alone an inch up the sides, but went ahead with the rest of the prep….used plain greek yogurt in place of mascarpone. Took it out before going to church this morning, so it was out of fridge for 2.5 hours before baking and, although a bit stuck to the sides of the pan (I will grease the pan next time) the carmel was soft and the whole dish was delicious! Served it with more greek yogurt…YUM!

  89. I made this using raisin challah and vanilla extract as my only substitutions for Easter brunch and it was amazing. I used a Le Creuset braiser as my caramel-making and baking vessel and it worked out well.

  90. Maggie Lears

    I just made this for Easter brunch and it was beyond yummy! My family is begging me to make this my go to brunch dish – happy to oblige them!

  91. This looks absolutely delicious, even decadent. I love French Toast, but my simple version leaves a lot to be desired. I will definitely try this. Thank you for the recipe.

  92. Shana

    I’d like to make this for Mother’s Day tomorrow, especially since my parents happen to have both leftover challah and leftover marscapone! That said, I won’t be at their house to make brunch until tomorrow morning. Will it be OK if I don’t overnight it? What do you think the minimum recommended soak time should be? Thanks!!

  93. Brittany

    Forgive me if this question was already asked: Is the caramel supposed to boil at all? Mine started boiling at med heat about 3-4 min into it. I kept it boiling for a few minutes then was paranoid it would become brittle when cooked, so turned it down to low. It still boiled and never got a copper color (was more the color of dark sweetened condensed milk). After being in the fridge it was so hard I could barely scrape it. What is the boiling that was the misstep? Help! Thanks.

    1. deb

      Caramel questions — I know that the separating was annoying each time I made it too, but in the end, well, you can see in the photos, I stirred it as best as I could and it tasted delicious. I agree that it was frustrating and tried to give everyone a clear heads up in the recipe that there would be separation.

      More answers:
      The mixture should not be grainy. Usually when it is grainy, it needs to be melted more. Just keep cooking it.
      The caramel SHOULD be rock-hard when it comes from the fridge. That’s why we refrigerated it, so that it wouldn’t mix/melt into the custard before it hit the oven — if it does, then you don’t end up with a nice caramel lid.
      Bubbling caramel is just fine, normal.

      Did I miss anything else? I’d like to help in any way that I can.

      Shana — I’d say the minimum would be an hour.

  94. Myra

    Ok I’m a little concerned because I just made it for tomorrow’s brunch and my caramel did the same thing. It never got coppery or runny like your pictures. It’s hard and grainy. I went ahead with it so I’ll see what happens when I bake it tomorrow!

  95. Jessica

    Made this for Mother’s Day brunch, and although there were a few issues with caramel that was hard in places, it was easily avoidable and the deliciousness of the rest more than made up for it. My caramel was pale, thick, and grainy like other commenters are describing, but it didn’t seem to be an issue except around the very edges were there wasn’t bread to soak it up.

    I also made the potato, bacon, and scallion frittata from the book, along with fruit salad, and my mom was SO pleased! Thanks so much, Deb, for helping me pull off a really memorable brunch for her.

  96. Helen

    Like many posters, my first try at making the caramel sauce was a mess – it was grainy and separated. I threw out the first batch, and the second time, I made a caramel sauce by first melting the sugar over medium heat, then stirring in the butter when the sugar was completely melted and the color called for. It worked beautifully and was delicious.

  97. I made this last weekend for brunch and it was a huge hit! Everyone loved it. I love the marscapone recommendation – the flavors go so well together. My caramel seemed a little hard at first, but after I baked the whole thing, the caramel was just great – only sometimes sticking to my teeth.

    Thanks for the great recipes and lovely blog! Rachel

  98. Betsy

    Another person who struggled with the caramel! My first attempt went right from grainy to burnt. Second try looked separated and awful but I forged ahead – it was so thick it wouldn’t even cover the bottom of the dish, let alone coat the sides, but I sort of flattened it with a spoon and centered it in the dish and hoped for the best. It didn’t melt entirely in the oven, so I had to either leave a big piece stuck to the pan or pull it off and rest it on top? But overall it was good! Probably not as caramel-y as intended, but a delightful baked French toast. Deb, two thoughts – do you think making it in a saucepan with taller sides (as I did) would have an effect? Vs the shallower baking vessel? Next time I might try a skillet?? Also – I’ve struggled with caramel-making before, and was aided by temperature guides… Hard ball, soft crack, etc. Deb if you make this again any chance you could measure the temp of the correctly cooked version?

  99. Z

    I didn’t have almond or vanilla in the cuboards so I zested some orange instead… let’s see how that works when I bake it tomorrow :-)

  100. Michele

    I made this and it went over well. I would like to try it again with vanilla extract instead of almond next time. I baked it in a glass dish and left it outside one hour before baking and had no problems with the caramel hardening.

  101. Frances

    Thank you so much for this! I’ve made it twice for brunch at a friend’s house and although I did cheat a bit and use yogurt instead of creme, the thing I like most about it is that it’s a delicious, high impact dish (looks awesome, tastes great, people rave) but it’s made, with the exception of brioche, with things I have on hand. To make something so wonderful and exclaimed over so effortlessly is gold.

  102. Kath M.

    I made this for New Years Brunch and it was fabulous! I used sour cream instead of creme fresh b/c that was all I had. I did whip up 2 extra eggs and about a 1/3 of a cup more milk to pour over because even after soaking under a plate all night the top still seemed too dry to me. My caramel worked perfectly. I made this in a 10 inch straight sided skillet that went right into the oven so I didn’t change cooking vessels. One pan with caramel mess to clean is good with me.

  103. I had a request from my colleagues for salted caramel toast. But i made this instead and it was an instant hit! Changed the almond extract to vanilla bean paste…
    Thanks for sharing the fab recipe.

  104. Deb

    OMG fantastic! Bet you can’t eat just one piece. I used the caramel recipe from the Sticky Buns-which is to die for good. Next time my husband insists I add raisins. There will definitely be many next times.

  105. Amy

    I want to make this just for me, my husband and my daughter but there will be a lot leftover. Can it be stored and reheated? Or would it be better to just wait for a party and more eaters??

  106. Kathleen

    I can’t ever pin these recipes, either at the side pin or the one below the comments. I even tried to click on the email so I can try them for tomorrow, Frustrating.

  107. Leigh

    So, I’ve got a batch of this soaking in the fridge right now. I’m worried about my caramel, but I’m *more* worried about my mascarpone. I forgot to mix it in with just the eggs and wound up trying to mix 8 eggs, a cup of milk, and the mascarpone all together, so the cheese never quite fully incorporated into the custard; it’s still a little lumpy, and there are dots of cheese on the top surface. How screwed do you think I am?

  108. Leigh

    Update: not screwed at all! Aside from a bit of leakage during the flipping process, this recipe turned out really well. Next time I make it, I’ll probably use vanilla instead of almond extract (or maybe even orange?), but otherwise, it seems like a keeper.

  109. deb

    Kathleen — That’s too bad. The Pin link at the bottom is working for me (goes to the bookmarklet). Fortunately, a gentle redesign is coming and everything will be easier to Pin, just like every other modern website. Hopefully, just a couple weeks off now.

    Leigh — So glad it worked out.

  110. Candace

    This looks amazing. I want to make it. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find Challah or Brioche nearby … any suggestions for substitution? Thanks for all your great recipes, Deb!

  111. Caitlin

    I have a weekly tradition now at work (assistant pastry chef-ing) to whip something up for staff to get through the grind of Sunday brunch. This is beyond perfect. The caramel process reminded me of butterscotch-making so I subbed a little brown sugar in for the white to add that depth of old-fashioned flavor. I love it. Thanks for what ended up being a reminder that everything good is better with sugar and butter.

  112. Amy

    I love all your recipes! Recently in the breakfast brunch casserole photos you are using some beautiful wooden trivets. Where are they from?

    1. deb

      Amy — Do you mean the ones in the third photo? I ordered them from Food52’s store. Looks like they have another shape now too. Definitely much more than I’d usually spend on a trivet, but we’d just gotten a new table and I realized I’d be seeing the trivets all of the time (and do!) so managed to justify it to myself. ;)

  113. Esther

    This was incredible! I didn’t even let it sit overnight or an hour. I just gently pressed and released the bread in the batter so that it soaked up like a sponge. I also just let the caramel cool for about five minutes before putting the bread and batter in a 12-inch cast iron pan. The leftovers were great cold as well as gently re-warmed in the oven!

  114. Last day I was planning to make something unique but tastier dessert and somehow came back to your site.Oh my god need to say that it was really an awesome treat….

    it will be pretty good if you could upload the step by step Image of the same so that it would be more conveyable as in the later part of this was bit confusing and no expert advise was rendered.

    Any ways has shared your recipe link through FB and Twitter to my friends.

  115. Pleinelune

    I was all set to make another recipe from your site, boozy baked french toast when this recipe popped up on my Facebook feed, reminding me that this was something I absolutely wanted to make.

    So I made this for a Christmas eve brunch for my German family (I’m indian and my husband german), and it was a total success.

    The only problem i encountered was that even though I followed your temperature settings, the bread began to slightly burn half way through. I turned it down to 150°C for the rest of the time and it came out perfect.

  116. sheryl

    merry! merry! this was a “grand slam, outta the park” addition to xmas day b’fast! thank you… the best overnight french toast evah! enjoy the holiday’s and every day!

  117. Emalee

    I made this, but didn’t do the overnight thing, I assembled it and put it straight in the oven. I used croissants, and it utterly failed. I used a 10 in metal cake pan, used 12 oz of croissants, and used the custard mixture exactly, but I came out with hard caramel, and absolutely a soggy mess aside from the (now bottom) top of the bread pudding that got a nice brown crust in the oven. I tried cutting off the top and eating that (with the minuscule caramel that there was) but it was SOOOO soggy. I tore it apart and stuffed it in some ramekins and am going to try rebaking those without any caramel because I don’t have the patience to try that again right now). Major bummer.

    1. deb

      Emalee — Croissants are not going to absorb the way bread would, so I think that was the culprit. Plus, they’re going to deposit a lot of butter or fat into the caramel, which could throw it off. Hard to say for sure, but I think they were the culprit. Regardless, I’m sorry it didn’t work out for you.

  118. Cy

    Hi there, I don’t if you will read this at this late date , but wanted to tell you that I really enjoy your blog and writing”voice” as my friend Chris( a creative writing teacher) always says. I did two different things here that worked beautifully . I used brown sugar( I seem to have an excess of it) and I used pannatone for the bread. It came out delicious. My caramel looked terrible, but it did just what you said it would and melted and was perfect. Mine came out looking just like the photo and the pannatone just took it over the top! ( I know it’s crazy, but I got a large one for a gift and had to use it)I made mine in my 10inch cast iron skillet and it worked a charm. Great recipe, thanks again!

  119. Caroline

    Hi there-

    I am currently working on a ‘can make the day before’ brunch menu and wondering if this should be on that list! It looks so good!


  120. Derek

    Tried this twice and it never came together, always had a layer of fat on topmof the caramel. Seems like way to much butter. First (of many) recipes I’ve tried from thensite that I was not extremely happy with.

  121. jane

    This was a fantastic recipe, and I think if I had followed it more closely it would have been even better. I have never made caramel before, and this was great beginning experience. I think my heat was too low, and then when I adjusted it because I noticed the sugar was still grainy and turned the heat up, it got too brown and hardened more easily. I should have been brave and put it at medium low the whole time. Also, my challah was too high at points, and I should have just trimmed it so that it was more of an even bake (the top parts didn’t get saturated with the yummy egg mix and were dry). I used a 9 inch deep dish pie pan. When I turned it over, it was lovely, and everyone enjoyed it, even the dry bits. Great recipe.

  122. aislinnrebecca

    This was so scrumptious! However, it did cause a lot of trouble getting to the end result. I had to attempt the caramel three times. The first two times, it was crunchy when it reached the correct color. On my last attempt, I started it at medium low and turned it down to low for most of the cooking. I also took it off the heat when it was a very light brown. It still hardened completely off the stove. This morning, after the hour on the counter and baking, it flipped out of my cast iron beautifully! I had hardly any caramel left in the pan, and the caramel on the bread was just thick, liquidy, dark, and tasty.

  123. Diane Lash Ferber

    Extremely sweet Mother’s Day breakfast…but some of the caramel remained as a brittle layer I had to lift off. More than enough remained, but why did this happen? (Putting it back in the oven for longer would have dried out the bread.)

  124. I assembled this the day before and it turned out perfectly the next morning. I used my 10 inch cast iron pan and it served 8 people perfectly (with a second egg casserole, bacon, and a salad). Thanks for making Mother’s Day easy!

  125. Arielle

    Do you think this would work if you made it with dulce de leche instead of caramel? I have a couple of cans in the pantry that I would want to use up. Thanks!

  126. Janice

    I made this with home made brioche bread and it was delicious (and sweet). Cooking the sugar and butter took quite a while and I kept bumping the heat up from medium low after about 25 minutes. I cooked it until it turned a deep caramel color. I used a deep dish pie pan sprayed with nonstick spray. I soaked the bread in the custard (no extra sugar in the custard) for only one hour and used a weighted plate on top while soaking. After baking, I immediately ran a butter knife around the edges and turned it out onto a large dinner plate. It was crunchy on top and delicious. I would make it again.

  127. Catherine

    What an amazing recipe. Made this today for my in laws. They are pretty picky, but this was a massive success and definitely won me some much needed brownie points… Followed the recipe exactly – no issues with the caramel whatsoever. Thank you!

  128. Elana

    As always your recipes are well written, easy to follow and come out delicious and this was no exception. The perfect sweet dish for the breakfast I arranged for 10 work colleagues. Super easy to prep the night before and shove in the oven in the morning. Thanks again!

  129. Sam

    Every time I make this, it is still liquidy in the center after 35 minutes. What would you do to keep the top from burning in the oven, but allow the liquid more time to bake? Just cover with foil?

  130. Zoey

    For me, salted caramel made this recipe stand out from all other possibilities as I searched for a way to use the stale bread on my counter. Unfortunately, after attempting the caramel three times without success, I ultimately had to resort to making a different, more standard, overnight baked french toast. I have no doubt that if I was more experienced at caramel (Deb makes it sound so effortless!), this would have turned out to be the star at every special occasion breakfast here on out. Once I’ve mastered caramel, I hope to try it again.

      1. Zoey

        I found that the sugar never seemed to melt but remained grainy, even over medium heat. The third time, I tried melting the sugar on its own and then taking it off the heat to add butter, but the sugar hardened and would not combine with the butter. (I hesitate to share this because I’m sure it just reveals my utter lack of experience with caramel.) Thanks for responding to my comment!

        1. deb

          I wonder if hotter heat would have helped. Medium is so different on different stoves, but sugar should always eventually melt. And always ask away. Nobody should be expected to know how to make caramel to make a recipe; the recipe should make it doable for everyone.

  131. Julie

    So I made this tonight (belated Christmas dish) but my mascarpone got lumpy when I whisked it with the eggs. Why, and how do I fix it?
    This is the first time a SK recipe has failed me! (I’m sure it’s user error!)

  132. Caitlin

    I made this for a brunch potluck. I overcooked the caramel so it turned out way to crunchy and it definitely didn’t hold together like in the picture, but everyone said it tasted amazing. I subbed in orange extract for almond extract and I recommend it!