This is for my dear friend Cyndie. I made it for a retreat that we provided breakfast for and then we munched the leftovers later. I'm glad she liked it enough to want to serve it on Christmas morning!
The recipe is from Desperation Entertaining. The original calls for 1-1/2 cups orange juice but my family didn't like it in the trial run so I substituted milk which is what I put in the recipe below. I also added the sugar.
Cooking Oil Spray
1 large loaf (1 pound) Italian-style or French-style bread, cut into bite-sized cubes
Spray a 13 x 9 -inch baking dish with cooking oil spray. Place bread cubes in pan.
6 large eggs
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1-1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick butter)
3/4 (3 onces) chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds
Maple syrup for serving
Bread eggs into a large bowl and whisk well. Whisk in the half-and-half, milk, and cinnamon until well combined. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes. Press the bread cubes down into the egg mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. The casserole can be refrigerated, covered, at this point for up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Place butter in a 2-cup or larger glass measure, cover with a paper towel, and microwave on high until melted, about 45 seconds. Uncover casserole and press down the bread cubes already in it to moisten. Sprinkle the nuts over the bread cube mixture. Drizzle melted butter over all.
Bake, uncovered, until lightly browned on top, about 35 minutes. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting it into squares and serving. Pass syrup at table to drizzle on top.