This breakfast bread pudding is really a perfect combination of savory and sweet. It has all the sweet goodness that sugar and orange and vanilla bring to any dish with a good dose of savory courtesy of rosemary, fennel, and bacon. It sounds like a lot going on, and it is, but it all seems to work—and work very well. If you prefer your French toast made with brioche or challah, feel free to use either and just add ⅓ cup (35 g) golden raisins and ¼ teaspoon ground fennel seeds to the egg mixture.
Grease a 9 by 13-inch (23 by 33-cm) baking dish with butter or nonstick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, cream, orange zest, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Stir in the bacon. Add the bread to the custard mixture and stir well to combine. Let the mixture sit, stirring a few more times, for 20 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all of the liquid.
Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared pan, cover with aluminum foil, and
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