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This refined sugar free Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake is the perfect brunch for two! This decadent spring breakfast recipe makes two generous portions of strawberry studded French toast laced with sweet vanilla bean paste. Top with basil infused whipped cream and extra strawberries for a truly decadent morning.
You know how I can tell that you’re my person?
You’re reading this Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake post. Which likely means you are entirely into brunch, a meal that just so happens to be my all-time favourite.
I won’t wax poetic about my long-standing love affair with brunch for too long today (I’ve already done that), but I just wanted you to know that I see you, friend, and I am 100% in your corner.
Here’s the thing though:
Since lockdown started, I know that many of us haven’t been able to meet up with friends and enjoy a delicious Sunday breakfast at our favourite spot.
I also know that a lot of brunch recipes online tend to be family-sized or even party-sized. It makes total sense, of course, brunch is usually a lazy meal you share with tons of people.
But what about those of us in two-person households? Should we have to miss out on the most epic of meals because we can’t eat an entire 13 x 9 platter of French toast casserole?
If you’re in the same two-person boat as I am, this small-batch Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake is your answer.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s the perfect lazy weekend brunch. Not only is this Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake insanely sweet and delicious, it’s also simple to prep! Everything is done the night before, so all you have to do is pop it in the oven in the morning, strain and whip the cream, and you have brunch on the table in under 30 minutes.
- It’s a small-batch recipe! Just like my Chai French Toast Bake, this baby is baked in a small loaf pan, yielding two very generous portions. If you’re not starving (or you have a little one), it can be split between three.
- This overnight French toast bake is naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. Unlike lots of French toast casseroles, this recipe doesn’t use refined sugar. Maple syrup, vanilla bean paste, and strawberries work just as beautifully.
- You only need 6 ingredients to make this recipe! If you want to top the toast with the basil whipped cream (which I HIGHLY recommend), it’s only another two ingredients.
Does French toast bake have to sit overnight?
Yes, all French toast bakes have to sit overnight in the fridge.
This allows the stale bread ample time to soak up the custard and all the flavours you’ve added to it. If you don’t soak the bread for long enough, the centre of your bread cubes will be dry and boring.
It’s kind of like marinating a piece of fish or meat before you cook it. The longer the casserole can soak, the tastier it will be.
For this recipe, I recommend a minimum of 6 hours soaking time. Overnight is ideal.
Ingredients in this French toast bake for two
- Whole wheat sourdough bread: The key ingredient in this French toast bake. For best flavour, I recommend a sourdough, but any crusty bread will do.
- Fresh strawberries: I love the combination of fresh strawberries, vanilla, and basil. I haven’t tried this recipe with frozen berries, so I can’t confirm whether it will work.
- Vanilla paste: For superior flavour and aesthetically pleasing flecks of vanilla bean.
- Pure maple syrup: Adds a little natural sweetness to this Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake.
- Eggs: Large eggs are the key ingredient in the custard. They help the bake keep its shape and add richness.
- Milk: The other key custard ingredient. You can use any milk you have – dairy or non.
How to make overnight strawberry French toast bake
It looks fancy, but overnight French toast bakes are very simple to make. That’s why they’re great for a lazy weekend feast! Here’s how to do it:
- Cube your bread. Make sure it’s a crusty kind for unbelievable texture.
- Layer the bread cubes and fresh strawberries in a lightly greased loaf tin.
- Whisk together the custard.
- Pour the custard over the bread and berries. Press the bread into the custard to really saturate it.
- Leave overnight.
- In the morning, bake up the French toast casserole. Serve warm with basil whipped cream.
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Let your bread sit out uncovered. This Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake is best when the bread you use is slightly stale. This allows the bread to soak up as much custard and flavour as possible. I let the cubed bread I’m going to use sit out uncovered during the day before I prep the casserole in the evening.
- Don’t like strawberries? No worries! Use any fresh berry you like or have in the kitchen.
- You can substitute honey or agave nectar for the maple syrup, but I love the hint of maple with the vanilla paste here.
- For optimum flavour, be sure to use pure vanilla bean paste. If you don’t have paste, you can use pure vanilla extract, but the flavour won’t be quite as strong.
Looking for more naturally sweetened brunch options?
Chai Spiced French Toast Bake
Mandarin Orange French Toast Bake
Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal
Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chunks
Sweet Potato Crust Quiche
Chocolate Raspberry Baked Oatmeal
Maple Bacon Twists
Almond Pancakes with Spiced Peach Syrup
If you make this recipe, let me know by snapping a picture and tagging me on Instagram @naturallysweet_kitchen. I love seeing your creations and sharing them in my Stories. Or let me know you love this Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake by leaving a comment and rating below!
Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake
This refined sugar free Overnight Strawberry French Toast Bake is the perfect brunch for two! A decadent spring breakfast that serves two generous portions of strawberry studded French toast.
- 150 g crusty sourdough bread slightly stale
- 100 g fresh strawberries quartered
- 3 large eggs
- 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tsp pure vanilla paste
- 100 ml milk
- ½ tbsp raw cane sugar optional
Basil Whipped Cream
- 150 ml double cream
- 2 ½ tbsp fresh basil thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp agave nectar
- Cut the bread into 2 ½ cm (1 inch) chunks and layer them with the strawberries in a greased 20 x 10 cm (8 x 4 inch) loaf tin. Set aside.
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla paste until well combined. Pour in the milk and whisk it into the egg mixture.
- Pour the custard evenly over and around the bread. Gently press the bread into the custard, making sure to drench the top crusts.
- Cover the tin tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- The following morning, preheat the oven to 190°C (375ºF) and remove the tin from the fridge.
- Sprinkle the optional raw sugar evenly over the bread.
- Once the oven has heated, remove the aluminum foil and bake the French toast for 23-25 minutes. Remove the bake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before serving with the basil whipped cream and pure maple syrup.
Basil Whipped Cream
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan and heat it over a medium-low heat to scalding point.
- Remove the cream from the heat and stir in the basil and agave nectar. Let cool to room temperature and then seal in an airtight jar and refrigerate overnight.
The following morning, while the French toast is baking, strain the cream into a bowl. Be sure to press the herbs firmly against the strainer to release all of the oils.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks and enjoy on the toast.
Leftovers can be kept sealed in portioned packets of aluminum foil in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, simply toss the packet into a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes.