Hawaiian French Toast
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or cream (regular, soy, almond, cashew, etc.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
heaping 1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
optionally add: about 1/2 cup raisins, blueberries (fresh or frozen), diced apples, peaches, or mangoes; coconut flakes
1 pound Hawaiian Bread, diced in 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces, or use Challah (If making this as an overnight/make-ahead option, use French bread, a French Baugette, or a crusty and hearty bread that can stand up to overnight soaking without disintegrating)
2 medium ripe bananas, diced small (about 1 1/2 cups loosely measured banana bits)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute (or use browned butter. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't curdle the milk or scramble the eggs.
Add all remaining ingredients to the butter, except for the bread and bananas, and whisk until smooth and combined. Add the bread cubes, bananas, and toss gently to coat.
Transfer mixture to baking pan, pressing it down just slightly with a spatula to even and smooth it, but I leave it fairly loosely piled (unlike bread pudding which is packed down). Push down any bread corners or sides that are jutting up so they don't burn. Scrape out any marinade in the bottom of the bowl and pour that over the bread.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and browned, and the marinade has dried out some, taking care not to overbake as you want this moist. The coating does not have to be bone dry on all pieces. Serve immediately by slicing into pieces (I made 9 generous squares) or scoop with a serving spoon.
Serve with Vanilla Maple Butter, warm maple syrup, a dusting of confectioners' sugar, a sprinkle of salt (my husband loved the salty-and-sweet) or plain. Store extra French Toast in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, reheating gently in the microwave prior to serving with a drizzle of syrup; or freeze for up to 2 months. French toast becomes less sticky as the days pass, making it easy to wrap up like muffin for a portable snack.
If making this as a make-ahead/overnight option, assemble, cover pan with foil, and refrigerate for up to 16 hours before baking. Remove foil, and bake as directed, possibly extending baking time past what's suggest (30 to 35 minutes) since pan and contents are starting out cold from the fridge.
Adapted from Pumpkin Cinnamon Overnight Pull-Apart French Toast with Vanilla Maple Butter
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