Tuesday was Chulalongkorn Day here in Thailand. Frank and I had the day off of work, and though I wanted to start this post with something sickeningly cute like “happiness is a Tuesday off work”, for the sake of authenticity, I won’t.
Because the truth is, a Tuesday off work seemed like the only logical day to tackle a much-needed and long-avoided chore – cleaning the kitchen. As much as I use the kitchen, crumbs and flour and overbaked pecans pieces seem to get into everything. And it’s been so long since I pulled everything off the shelves and wiped them down that I’m embarrassed to own up to it.
So Tuesday, I cleaned the whole place out. It felt great. Although it made me thoroughly grumpy and appreciative of my patient husband and our Wednesday date night which meant the pristine kitchen would stay that way for one day longer.
Buried deep in the back of the freezer I found a bag full of
gold bread that I had had the foresight to cut into cubes and freeze.
I refrigerated it overnight and this morning after a run, we had this beautiful thing on our kitchen table.
This almost erased the memory of the kitchen clean-out. Almost.
Baked Pumpkin French Toast with Cinnamon-Pecan Topping
For the French Toast:
- 1 loaf crusty french bread (equalling about 1 pound; most any type of bread will work - ciabatta is wonderful)
- 8 whole large eggs
- 2.5 cups milk (2% or skim work fine)
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces, roughly chopped
- Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Tear bread into chunks (or cut into cubes) and evenly distribute in the pan. Whisk together eggs, milk, pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour evenly over bread. Cover tightly and store in the fridge several hours or overnight.
- In a separate bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter pieces and cut into the dry mixture until mixture resembles fine pebbles. Stir in pecans. Store in a Ziploc in the fridge.
- When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove casserole from oven and allow to rest on the counter until the oven reaches 350 degrees. Gently press on the bread so that it sinks a bit into the liquid. If it appears at all dry, pour 1/2 cup milk evenly over the surface of the casserole. Sprinkle crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture. Bake 1 hour or more for a firmer, less liquid texture. (I found 45 minutes was just perfect.)
- Serve immediately.
Deep cleaning the kitchen does not make me happy. A big plate of this stuff just about makes up for it.