Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping + 5 Can’t Miss French Toast links!


“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” Mary Oliver

I sat on the cold hardwood floor in my office furiously sifting through a box of photos as if my life depended on finding this one particular image taken so many years ago.


My husband’s  worry-free face 14 years ago [oh how I miss you!], my girl, maybe three? curled up so small sifting through wet sand, weddings, sunsets, Fenway, misty beach mornings, graduations, forced smiles and genuine ones, baby boy 1, big chocolate-brown eyes [ you haven’t changed yet…] baby boy 2 smooth cheeks, a big under-bite, almond blue eyes [ a compilation of many generations all present in your sweet, chubby face], drunken fun with best friends, worry, innocence, love, in love and love past, Christmas, Mama [happy?] surrounded by her 3 ducklings circa 1989, Dad in the old orange rocking chair, beer in hand, absent yet physically present, school pictures of my littles…I sink momentarily into these memories, my heart full, blessed, nostalgic and then I let them go and take a giant, slow breath.  I had stopped breathing.

I didn’t find the picture I was looking for, nor is it relevant I tell you about the photograph, or the people captured in it.  It is gone just like the moments captured thousands of hours ago, the photos now scattered on the creaky wooden floor in our tiny home office.  I sat and stared at the mess of memories, grateful for almost all of them. And yet.  I carelessly tossed them back into a nondescript, beige box because that is where they belong.

Hours later I wash the kitchen floor, scrubbing away at the faint paw prints, yogurt droplets and strawberry stains left marking the events of another day.  One pound of fresh strawberries gone, consumed by my hungry little monsters before dinner.  Another pound still in the refrigerator.  I’ll need to hide them.

I empty the bucket of dirty water into the sink.  A small spider, no bigger than my pinkie nail scurries to the lip of the sink and willingly crawls in, brave yet unaware of the possibilities.  The spider explores for a bit, his movements becoming more cautious each second.  I turn on the faucet, pull out the hose and aim it right at him.  The current sweeps him off his minuscule legs, pushing him towards the drain.  I turn off the faucet. He fights, finds his sea legs, tries to avoid the impossible.  With a half jealous smile, I turn on the water.  One final flush and he is gone.


Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble

Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking

Serves 12


9 cups good quality French bread cut into 1 inch cubes (challah or brioche will also work)

Cooking spray or butter for baking dish

8 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound strawberries, cored and halved

Ingredients for topping:

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup old fashion rolled oats

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup or 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes


Preheat the oven to 450F.  Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread for about 12 minutes.  Cool and set aside.

Spray or generously butter a 9×13 baking dish.  Add bread cubes to baking dish.

Next make the custard.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, ginger, cloves and salt until smooth and well combined.  Pour custard over bread.  Toss with your hands until all the bread is wet.  Press down gently on the bread so it forms an even layer.  Spread strawberries over the top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 48 hours.  Overnight is best!

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare oat crumble.  Grab a large bowl.  Add the flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cloves and salt and stir together.  Add the butter.  Work the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand and is crumbly.  (Topping can be made 48 hours in advance.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)

Sprinkle topping over the strawberries/bread.  Bake until golden brown about 40-45 minutes.  Turn on the broiler for the last two minutes for crunchier crust.  Serve warm with real maple syrup.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss French Toast Links!

Traditional French toast dipped a subtly sweet Panko breadcrumb mixture, fried to perfection and topped with lots of butter and syrup sounds like a bit of heaven to me. Head to Pioneer Woman for her crunchy French Toast recipe.

French toast in sandwich form? Yes it exists.  Head to Handmade Charlotte for Sarah Kieffer’s French toast sandwiches with peaches and mozzarella.

Lemon French toast topped with in season strawberries screams spring.  Head to Simply Delicious for the recipe.  Yum!

Want to wow your brunch guests?  Make Smitten Kitchen’s morning bread pudding with salted caramel.  This is on my must make immediately list.

If you a more of a savory than sweet person, head to Food 52 and check out their recipe for crispy salt and pepper French toast.

Granola Sticky Buns + 5 Scrumptious Sticky Bun Links!


Though their initial encounter was brief, he thought of her often: big brown eyes, short wavy hair, long legs and a generous smile.  She appeared to him mostly at night when the cold Belgium air chilled his blood and bones, the foxhole barely sheltering his nineteen-year-old untouched, gangly body.

Big breath in, small, quiet breath out and a million stars shimmering overhead.  And it was in that small, silent breath out, a tiny crystal cloud formed, floating its way to the heavens. He watched the cloud disintegrate, tiny atoms floating further and further away from him. This is not the end of me.  No this tiny life-saving foxhole in the dense Ardennes forest would not be his final resting place.  The universe would graciously offer more: the beautiful brunette would take his hand, two sons and, eventually, a handful of grandchildren would make his heart full.

This boy didn’t know his good luck as he prayed for his life, to a god he wasn’t entirely sure existed.

Many months later, when the leaves glowed crimson and gold he would step off a train, in a small town with no one waiting to great him and thumb a ride home.  Changed.

Decades later, with the first snowfall of the season, memories of the war would resurface. Perhaps a tear fell when he thought of Belgium and, now, the simple yet perfect life he created for himself.

In the spring, when the first tulip buds emerged from the soil, he would take his grandchildren to a nearby golf-course with a small pond and a few, uninhibited, white-haired ducks.  There, under the spring sun and cerulean sky, they fed the ducks day-old sticky buns.

Granola Sticky Buns

makes 10 large buns

granola recipe adapted from Cookie and Kate

sticky bun recipe adapted from David Lebovitz  

Ingredients for granola:

4 cups old-fashion oats

3/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of ground ginger

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup of dried sour cherries, chopped if large


Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.  Grab a large bowl and combine oats, coconut, wheat germ, salt, ginger and cinnamon.  Stir thoroughly.

Pour in the olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Mix until all of the oat mixture is coated.  Pour granola onto prepared baking sheet and spread it in an even layer.  Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Remove the granola and allow it to cool completely.  It will crisp up as it cools.  Once cool, add the dried cherries.  Store in an air-tight container, at room temperature, for a couple of weeks.  Enjoy!

Ingredients for sticky bun dough:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

2/3 cup milk (any kind)

3 tablespoons sugar

1+3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 large egg

2 + 1/2 cups bread flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients for honey caramel:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 light brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup of prepared granola

Ingredients for filling:

1/4 dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons all-spice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons of coconut oil, at room temperature


First make the dough.  Using a small saucepan, over low heat,  warm the butter, milk and sugar until the butter has melted.  Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer and allow to sit until just warm to the touch.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture and stir gently.  Let sit in a warm place until it starts to bubble, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add egg, flour and salt.  Knead the dough with paddle or dough hook attachment at medium speed until the dough is smooth and stretchy, about 5 minutes.  Remove the dough and knead with your hands until it is a smooth ball.  Place back in the bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Allow to rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 11/2 hours.  *The time can vary.  It may take more or less time, use your best judgment.*

Next, make the honey caramel.  Lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square pan.  Using a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, melt the butter, brown sugar, honey and salt and continue to cook until the mixture comes to a boil.  When it starts to foam and the bubbles start to get larger, remove from the heat or when the temperature reads 212F.

Pour the honey caramel into your prepared pan and sprinkle a cup of granola over the caramel.  Set aside.

Now, make the filling.  Mix the brown sugar, all-spice and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

Once the dough has risen, knead the dough a couple of times on a lightly floured work surface.  Roll into a ten inch square.  Spread the coconut oil over the dough and sprinkle the filling mixture evenly over the dough.  Roll the dough as tightly as possible.  Grab a serrated knife and cut the dough into 10 slices. Place on top of the caramel, cut side up.  Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 1 hour or so.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place pan of sticky buns on baking sheet.  Bake until the center roll is golden brown and no longer feels soft, about 25-30 minutes.

Remove rolls from oven and cool for about 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the outside and then tip the buns onto a serving platter, dish or wire rack.  Serve warm and enjoy!

*Sticky buns are best served warm the day they are baked, but they still taste good the next day.  If you have leftovers, keep them well-wrapped at room temperature.  You can re-warm them wrapped in foil at 200F until heated through.*

5 Scrumptious Sticky Bun Links

Looking for a whole wheat version of sticky buns? Bon Appetempt has the recipe for whole wheat brown sugar sticky buns that looks divine!

If you love bananas, head to Heather Christo for her caramelized banana sticky buns.  I want to eat one or five of them right now.

Impress you friends and family with this creative riff on sticky buns.

Gooey. Turtle. Brownie. Sticky. Buns.  Yes they exist.  Head to Willow Bird Baking for the recipe.

How about sticking with the classic? Deb at Smitten Kitchen has a pecan sticky bun recipe that will not disappoint!