Friends, if you’re looking for an excuse to ditch the Easter ham and make brunch instead, this Orange French Toast Casserole with Cream Cheese Frosting is all the reason you need.
Can we all agree breakfast is the most superior meal of the day? It is perfection. At what other meal can you respectably choose to eat pancakes, bacon, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg casseroles, and fried bread covered in maple syrup? Even if you’re a steak and potatoes guy, breakfast has you covered. Steak and eggs is totally legit before 10 AM, and hash browns and home fries are no joke.
I love that at breakfast I can satisfy both my savory and sweet tooth in one platter. At this meal alone, dessert and main course mingle together in perfect harmony. Maple syrup lazily pools by the sausage links. Bites of waffle blend with runny egg yolk. It’s the way nature intended it, I’m sure of it.
I love a good robust holiday meal, but I’d ditch the Thanksgiving turkey and Easter ham in favor of a giant brunch any day. Don’t think breakfast food is worthy of a holiday meal? I’m going to let this Orange French Toast Casserole convince you otherwise.
This casserole began with a desire to cook something special for the Mr. for his birthday, coupled with the equally strong desire to not have to go to the grocery store. The Mr. absolutely LOVES orange sweet rolls, but I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand, so I scoured my grocery inventory for another option.
Lo and behold, the freezer held just what I needed–a few ziplocks full of bread cubes I’d been saving for croutons. Croutons are great and all, but those bread cubes had a higher calling–orange french toast.
Guys, this casserole is just so, so good. It exceeded all my expectations. The bread is layered with orange zest, cinnamon, and sugar to give it an almost cinnamon-roll like taste. Then, it’s covered in a custard and baked until crispy and golden on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. The finale? An orange spiked cream cheese frosting that melts into all the nooks and crannies. Topping french toast casserole with frosting instead of maple syrup is brunch heaven, people.
This tastes so similar to orange sweet rolls, but with about 1/2 the work. Plus, it’s pretty, makes your house smell AMAZING, is totally make-ahead friendly, and tastes like spring. I’d say that’s all the convincing you need. My work here is done.
Orange Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
- 1 loaf french bread, sourdough, or other crusty bread
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Pinch salt
- Butter for greasing
For the frosting
- 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
- Juice of 1 orange
- Grease an 8 x 8 inch deep square pan with butter. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest.
- Tear the bread into bite sized hunks and place a single layer at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with ⅓ of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Add another layer of bread and sprinkle with another ⅓ of the cinnamon sugar. Finish with a final layer of bread and the rest of the cinnamon sugar.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours.
- When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature while the oven preheats to 375 degrees.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on top and center is no longer jiggly.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the cream cheese, vanilla, powder sugar, and orange juice until smooth. Drizzle, spoon, or pipe the frosting onto the warm casserole. Serve immediately.