This gooey butter baked french toast can be made the night before so when you wake up you can easily enjoy a decadent brunch. Inspired by my strong love of french toast and gooey butter cake (from St. Louis, like me!). This makes a large panful of soft challah bread in a simple bath of cream and egg, topped with a magical mixture that’s gooey yet crisp.
Gooey butter french toast seems like the only proper way for me to start this blog. It combines my strong love of french toast with the cake of my childhood.
There are many reasons to love brunch- getting up with the sole plan of spending several hours with your loved ones eating and drinking (coffee or mimosa). I think the other (big) reason I love brunch is that it’s an acceptable way for me to just eat dessert as a meal (better known as “French toast”). There’s something about the custard soaked bread turned crisp that makes it hard for me to ever eat anything else for brunch. One thing that stops me from making it more at home though is having to make everything the morning of and worry about frying all the french toast so that everyone can eat it fresh and hot at the same time. This dish solves that problem- the base is a baked french toast from the cookbook Baked Explorations, with gooey butter cake topping.
This dish is impressive, yet simple:
1) Slice bread
2) Whisk eggs and cream, pour over bread
3) Mix together topping, spread on top
4) Refrigerate overnight
5) Bake and eat!
If you don’t have a crazy sweet tooth like me then you could just make the baked French toast on its own and still have a great brunch. But if you DO have a crazy sweet tooth like me, then you’ll want to proceed with act 2- gooey butter cake topping.
Gooey butter cake is a St. Louis classic, and all you need to know about it is in the name. The star of the dish is the thick, rich, topping that is gooey yet caramelized on top and around the edges. The traditional cake has a yeast base, so the French toast bread base substitutes in for this role well. Even though I live in LA now which has almost any food you could ever want, there are some things that you just can’t get out here and I still think about sometimes, and that includes gooey butter cake (others include toasted ravioli, concretes, Imo’s pizza with provel cheese…).
A note about the gooey butter cake recipe- most recipes online for this use either cake mix or cream cheese, which still makes a tasty treat. However, I think true gooey butter cake doesn’t use these and is based on butter, sugar, eggs, and cream. I found the best recipe so far from Creative Culinary– please check out her excellent post that also gives some history of the cake that has been around in St. Louis since the 1930s 🙂
As a warning- this dish by nature is very sweet and rich. If you think this could be overwhelming for you or your brunch guests, consider serving in small squares complemented by other savory brunch dishes. And as I said before, you could certainly make just the French toast portion and have a great brunch already. Any leftovers are great cold or warmed up and enjoyed as a bread pudding like dessert 🙂
gooey butter french toast
This gooey butter french toast can be made the night before so when you wake up you can easily enjoy a decadent brunch. Inspired by my strong love of french toast and gooey butter cake (from St. Louis, like me!). This makes a large panful of soft challah bread in a simple bath of cream and egg, topped with a magical mixture that's gooey yet crisp.
Baked French Toast
- 1 loaf challah bread
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Gooey Butter Topping
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened (3/4 cups or 6 ounces)
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk at room temperature
- 1 cup cake flour
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Spray a 9x13inch baking pan with cooking spray. Cut bread loaf into 1 inch slices and arrange them in the pan slightly overlapping if necessary to fit.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs just until they break up. Whisk in the half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon until combined.
Pour the mixture over the bread slices.
Gooey Butter Topping
Combine the butter, sugar, salt, and corn syrup in the bowl of a mixer with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
On medium low speed add 1 egg and mix until combined. Then mix in the other egg and the vanilla extract.
Add the milk and cake flour and mix on low speed to combine. Scrape down the bowl and give it a final stir.
Dollop the butter topping over the bread and smooth out. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 40-50 minutes until the bread has puffed slightly and the gooey butter topping has started to brown around the edges and is a light golden brown. You can check under the topping/around the side to make sure the topping and filling has thickened up, but it won't be completely firmed up since you want it to be gooey!
Dust lightly with powdered sugar, and serve. Serve with something savory if this seems too intensely sweet for some eaters..