overnight baked pumpkin & cranberry french toast

I love Thanksgiving!  This year my in-laws are coming up from Georgia.  It will just be the 4 of us adults and my son eating, and it seems so strange to have such a small group.  Usually we invite some friends when we host Thanksgiving, but with the new baby we decided to keep it small.  It seemed like the easiest (and most flexible) option, but I will miss having a full house.

Like Thanksgiving, I also love overnight french toasts.  They are easy to make, delicious, and we usually have leftovers of it.  This recipe idea originally came from a baked french toast by Giada De Laurentiis that has blueberries and lemon zest.  I tweaked her recipe (a lot) to make it satisfy all of my fall foods cravings.  I've used chopped apple as a fruit add in, but it was disappointing because the flavor was too subtle.  Next, I tried adding fresh cranberries, and it was exactly what I wanted.  I'm prone to prefer tart things, but combine that with the sweet and warm flavors in the casserole, it makes the perfect Thanksgiving week breakfast.

Overnight Baked Pumpkin & Cranberry French Toast
recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

6 eggs
1 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
3 cups milk (I use 2%)
3/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 lb loaf of day old french bread (challah or sourdough would be great), cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups cranberries
Cinnamon sugar mixture (1 Tablespoon cinnamon and 3 Tablespoons of sugar mixed together)

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy.  Whisk in pumpkin puree until mixture is smooth.  Whisk in the milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves until blended. Mix in the bread until coated. Cover and put in fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350.
Remove mixture from the refrigerator and give the mixture a good stir.  Mix in the cranberries.  Pour into a greased 13" baking dish. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top. Bake 40-45 minutes until the top is  lightly golden and the filling is set.

Note: I always forget to add the cranberries, which is why I add them the next morning.  I assume it would be fine to mix them in after you've mixed in the bread.

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