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.

Challah French Toast with Mascarpone + Blueberry Meyer Lemon Compote + 5 French Toast Links for Easter Brunch!



If you love French toast you must try this recipe! Is it the challah bread that makes this recipe stand out or the blueberry Meyer lemon compote? I’m not sure if it matters! The combination of the two along with the slightly sweet and tangy mascarpone makes this breakfast a treat. Give it a shot this Easter. While your family happily scarfs it down you can quietly sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee. A bit of silence and a cup of coffee in my hand is my idea of a perfect morning.


Challah bread is so pretty and so damn delicious. I bought this bread at our local Whole Foods. This bread is perfect for French toast, because it is sturdy and won’t fall apart when you cook it. Also, it is spongy so it will absorb the custard really well. If you want to make your own bread head to King Arthur Flour for the recipe. Are you worried you might screw up the French toast on Easter morning? Head to Bon Appetit for the 7 most common French toast cooking mistakes. Read and learn…I did.

cft0025I made a blueberry Meyer lemon compote, because I feel like I need more compote in my life. No, just kidding. I saw a chef make a compote on Chopped and I thought: I should try that. So I did. I used frozen blueberries, but I can’t wait until blueberries are in season. Fresh blueberries will really make this standout. The Meyer lemon juice and zest adds a nice brightness and acidity to the sweet berries.

cft0031I love mascarpone because of its subtle flavor. I added a little lemon juice, lemon zest, confectioners sugar and salt to the cream cheese. I then stuffed the French toast with it. I wouldn’t eat this everyday, but a decadent breakfast once in a while is necessary. Treat yourself…and your family!

cft0046The kids and Bubba loved it. Happy spring and happy Easter!

Challah French Toast with Mascarpone and Blueberry Meyer Lemon Compote

Serves 4 or 8 large pieces

recipe barely adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients for French Toast:

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

1 tsp. Meyer Lemon zest

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. agave nectar or honey

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 large loaf challah bread

unsalted butter

canola or vegetable oil


Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon zest, vanilla, agave nectar, and salt.

Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for about 5 minutes, turning once. I did 3 at a time.

Over medium heat, heat 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. of oil in a large sauté pan or skillet. Cook the soaked bread for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven until ready to serve.

Fry the remaining soaked bread slices until it’s all cooked. Add more butter and oil to pan if necessary.

Serve hot with mascarpone cheese and blueberry lemon compote. Enjoy!

Ingredients for Blueberry Meyer Lemon Compote:

recipe barely adapted from Ellie Krieger

2 cups frozen blueberries

3 tbsp. water

1/4 cup sugar

zest and juice of one Meyer lemon


Mix 1 cup of the blueberries, water, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan. Cook the berries over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the remaining cup of blueberries and cook for 8 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Serve warm. If you have any leftovers; save and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Use the compote as a topping for vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt!

 Ingredients for Mascarpone Sauce:

1 8 ounce container Mascarpone, slightly softened

Confectioners’ Sugar, to taste ( I used about 2 tbsp.)

pinch kosher salt

zest and juice of one Meyer lemon


In a small bowl mix together the Mascarpone, 2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar, pinch of kosher salt and the zest and juice of one Meyer lemon. Mix until smooth. Spread a heaping spoonful on a piece of cooked bread, top with another piece of cooked bread. Pour as much compote as you like all over it and enjoy!

5 French Toast Recipes to Try for Easter!

One of my favorite food blogs is Dash and Bella. I love the recipes, writing and photography. Check it out if you haven’t already! Phyllis’ recipe for Baked Baguette French Toast is on my must try list. The photo alone will make you want to save your baguette scraps for next weekend’s brunch!

Need or want a vegan French toast recipe? What’s Cooking Good Looking a recipe for vegan eggnog French toast. I think I will make this next Christmas. Yum!

Need to prep breakfast the night before? Head to How Sweet It Is for Cinnamon Sugar Sourdough Bake with Whipped Greek Yogurt Cream. Yes. You read that right. Whipped. Greek. Yogurt. Cream.

French toast can be healthy! Cookie and Kate has a whole grain banana baked French toast recipe with a peanut butter drizzle. Sounds amazing! If you want to avoid peanut butter, because of an allergy sub in Sunbutter. It tastes just as good!

I love chocolate and bananas together. I love oatmeal. This recipe by FoodieCrush is making me drool.