Baked Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast: good stuff!

This time of year, we’re all looking for the easy way out, aren’t we?

Fast, easy, time-saving… holiday buzzwords all.

Which is too bad. The December holidays – Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa – are all about friends and family, food and fun. Why do we find ourselves rushing through them?

Because we’ve piled too much on our plates, that’s why. And I don’t mean too many cookie-swap cookies.

The last thing you want to stress over is making sure everyone’s fed on Christmas morning, right? Which is why you put this Baked Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast together a day or so ahead, then stow it in the fridge. When Christmas morning rolls around, simply stick it in the oven, and hurry back to the tree.

Looking for a way to enjoy those special Christmas moments with your (well-fed) family?

You’ve found it.

Breakfast bread puddings (a.k.a. stratas) are trending hot these days. Thankfully, this comforting combo of bread, eggs, milk, and the additions of your choice – anything from ham and asparagus to bacon and maple syrup – is coming back into vogue, just in time for what’s often the most rushed, mismanaged breakfast of the year: Christmas morning.

Mom and Dad gulp lukewarm brew from the same coffee cups they used scant hours ago, rustling all the presents together. The kids grab handfuls of Capn’ Crunch right from the box. No one has the time (or desire) to sit at the table and eat something warm and tasty and filling. It’s simply not in the Christmas cards.

But what if the wonderful aroma of cinnamon and bacon gradually started to build, just as the first crush of Christmas morning excitement is winding down? Would that give you the chance to play referee for a moment, and call a timeout for breakfast?

You bet. And when it happens, you’d best be ready with Baked Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast.

Start with a loaf of white or whole wheat bread, one whose texture is sturdy enough not to disintegrate in an overnight bath of milk and eggs.

Click anywhere on this picture to enlarge it to full size – this will work for any of the photos you see in this blog post.

I guarantee you’ll LOVE this easy recipe for English Muffin Toasting Bread. It makes the BEST toast – including cinnamon toast.

Also, it yields the perfect-size slices for our baked French toast.

Speaking of cinnamon – if you haven’t tried our Cinnamon-Sugar Plus, you’re missing a good thing. It’s the perfect marriage of aromatic Vietnamese cinnamon and superfine sugar.

Look at this cinnamon toast – it just doesn’t get any better!

Start by slicing your bread 1/2″-thick, and making 16 pieces of cinnamon toast. Toast bread, then spread it with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar.

If you have a toaster oven, spread the bread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar first, then toast; the topping will adhere better.

Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Next, we’ll make a sticky-bun type glaze, for the bottom of the pan. Combine the following in a saucepan:

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

Heat until the butter melts, stirring frequently. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook until the sugar melts.

Pour the glaze into the prepared pan, spreading it to the corners.

Lay half the toast slices into the pan atop the glaze, cinnamon side up.

Top the toast with cooked breakfast meat, if desired. I’ve used bacon here, which turned out not to be the very best choice. It tasted good, but by the time the strata had baked, the bacon had lost its crispness. I think next time I’d choose crumbled cooked breakfast sausage, or slices of ham. Or simply serve the bacon on the side.

Lay the remaining slices of toast over the meat, cinnamon side up.

Next, we’ll put together a custard “bath” for the bread.

Whisk together the following:

8 large eggs
4 3/4 cups milk or half & half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the custard into the pan. It should just about cover the bread, if you push the bread down into the custard. If for some reason you need more liquid, beat together 3/4 cup milk or half & half and 1 large egg, and add to the pan.

Cover the pan, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to 36 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the strata from the fridge, and uncover it.

You’ll notice that the bread will have soaked up a lot of the liquid (top photo, above); that’s fine.

Bake the strata for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Cut along the edges of the stacked bread slices, transferring each double-thick piece to a plate. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon-sugar, if desired; or drizzle with maple syrup or honey.

Or do both!

Happy holiday breakfasting, one and all.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Baked Stuffed Cinnamon French Toast.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Gloria

    Any ideas for diabetic cookies, brownies etc.
    I make your 1 teaspoon sugar bread at least once a week, and we love, but love to have other recipes.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Gloria,

      If you plan on baking sweets you will need to use products such as maltitol and xylitol if you plan on going sugar free. Both can be found on Amazon, though please keep in mind that they can cause digestive issues in large amounts. Splenda and their ilk really don’t work well as sugar replacers. Jon@KAF

  2. glpruett

    Oh, wow, PJ, thanks a bunch for this recipe! Now I know what my contribution to the family Christmas brunch will be this year. I’m thinking I will stuff the cinnamon toast with Neuftachel instead of meat because I want a softer texture. Yum…I can’t wait! And let me wish all of my friends at KAF a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year!
    Our very best wishes to you too, our baking friend and companion. Here’s to lovely loaves in 2013! ~ MaryJane

  3. mstebby

    This looks great. I think maybe a weeknight for us too. My family would go crazy if we didn’t have icebox cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning.
    MJ I totally forgot about Happiness is a Warm Puppy. I’m going to find that for my kids. We used to LOVE that book.
    Next time I talk to my dad, I’m going to see if they still have our copy. Good luck!~ MaryJane

  4. takefive34

    Mmm, mmm, mmm!!! Cinnamon-sugar, bacon, maple syrup combined in a French toast recipe………what’s not to love??!! This is a recipe definitely worth saving for a special occasion….or ANY occasion! Thanks, P.J., and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!!

  5. barrie2

    Wow! This looks SO good! You have brought back a couple of delicious memories…My mom used to make me cinnamon toast back in the 70s from, of all things, a Peanuts (the Charlie Brown cartoon) “cookbook”. It was broiled so that the cinnamon/sugar got all crunchy on top – yum! And in the “stuffed french toast” category, a corner coffee shop in Newport, RI, used to have one I loved that might be adapted to your process… They took two slices of Portuguese sweet bread (Hawaiian King is similar) spread a mixture of neufchatel cheese and whatever fruit jam you like on it, making a “sandwich”, then dipped the whole thing in the traditional egg batter and grilled. SO good!
    Dang! That sounds amazing. I think we had the Peanuts cookbook too. I know we had a copy of Happiness is a Warm Puppy. Wonder where it is now? ~ MaryJane

  6. kklega

    Question- if I omitted the meat (have a vegetarian in the family) would I do anything differently? Stuff it with something else?

    You should not have to stuff them with anything else, but I think it is worth it. I would slice some apples and use those as a replacement for the bacon!-Jon

  7. waikikirie

    Yum-yum. We like breakfast for dinner, so this would be great. No big hassle when I come home from work. Just put it in the oven and go do something else. Thanks, PJ. Can’t wait to give it a try.

    Tell us how you like it – it’s definitely a good “pop it in the oven when you get home from work” dish. PJH

  8. sandra Alicante

    You could do it with stale croissants if you have leftovers. Omit the toasting stage but fill with bacon. Don’t think my family would like it as they are not keen on savoury/sweet combos but I might give it a try in a single portion, just for me, using nutmeg instead.
    Sorry guys, not a cinnamon fan!

    Hey, each to his own, right, Sandra? Croissant with bacon/nutmeg sounds good to me! PJH


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