Leftover babka slices are soaked in a vanilla cinnamon custard mixture and sit overnight. The most decadent make ahead breakfast!
You know how most babka recipes have you make two loaves? *cough* me too apparently. And maybe you read the recipe and you say, well I don’t live with twelve people so I’ll just make half. What would I do with the other loaf? Sure you could give it away… but! What if you let it hang out on the counter for a day or two, and then you’ll give it the ol’ custard treatment and turn it into the fanciest most decadent brunch?
Challah Chocolate Babka
I’ve explained before why I prefer challah based babkas (recipes with no or low butter content); they are softer and fluffier. I’ve also been making my breads milk-bread style now (a Japanese method that makes a roux with some of the flour and liquid before making the dough) which makes the texture even more tender. This is the milk bread chocolate babka recipe that I used to make this french toast.
And as a self-declared babka baking addict, I almost always have leftovers. Sometimes it’s a full loaf! And when I say leftovers, I mean, a whatever we didn’t inhale the moment it came out of the oven or warmed up to eat the next morning. This would be, a babka that kind of hung around for two days and everybody lost interest in it because as we know, freshly baked goods taste best the day of.
Babka French Toast
A french toast dish brings days old bread back to life. You really do want it to be days old because otherwise the bread hasn’t dried out enough to absorb enough custard to produce the right flavor and texture.
Challah french toast is a breakfast classic; thick-cut slices dipped in a vanilla custard mixture and either baked or fried for crispy edges. Hard not to love! I have a recipe for challah french toast here and I adapted that to accommodate the babka’s flavor profile. This takes that stellar combination to another level; adding a swirl of chocolate! And of course, you can add other flavors to the custard as well, see below for variations.
Overnight Babka French Toast
This is essentially what it sounds like: you’ll make the custard and arrange the dish the night before. It spends the night in the fridge and is ready to bake as soon as you wake up, or later in the morning whenever you need it. This is the kind of dish that is crowd-friendly and perfect for a brunch with guests because you won’t be busy in the kitchen when you’d rather be entertaining with a mimosa in hand! Also, would be good for a special morning like a holiday morning breakfast. Scratch that, this IS basically Christmas morning in a dish!
Babka French Toast Variations
Flavor options: I went with cinnamon and vanilla here but you can vary up the flavoring as much as you like: orange or lemon zest; almond extract, pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves), etc.
Add ins: These would go on the dish right before baking, not overnight. I love adding in fruit to bake with the custard, raspberries work especially well, providing a pop of juicy tart flavor to this decadent dish. You do any berry or stone fruit you like, or add some nuts.
Ingredients & Substitutions for Babka French Toast
- Maple Syrup: If you don’t have it, you can omit this.
- Brown sugar: light or dark is fine, you can also use granulated. The brown adds a caramel note to the bottom which is really great.
- Babka Slices: Obviously, I like my babka homemade milk bread style. but if you have another recipe you like (brioche or challah based) those will work too. Store – bought babka can vary a lot; if it’s a denser babka (not a soft bread) it might not absorb as much of the custard.
- Whole Milk: 2% milk is a fine sub, skim would be a thinner custard so I might do half skim half heavy or light cream to make up for the lost fat.
- Eggs: no substitutes.
- Cinnamon & vanilla: (see above for flavor options).
Pan Fried Babka French Toast
To make this like traditional french toast, with a crispy exterior all around, skip the bottom layer. Make the custard the day of and sip the slices into it then fry on both sides on medium high heat until cooked through. Top with berries, nuts, whipped cream, powdered sugar, etc.
Recipe for Chocolate Babka French Toast
Babka French Toast Bake
- For the bottom layer
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3 TB unsalted butter and a pinch or salt or salted butter
- Days old slices of chocolate babka, store bought or homemade
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Sugar, for sprinkling
- Step 1 Melt the butter and stir in the maple syrup and brown sugar. Pour it into the bottom of a casserole dish and turn the dish a few times to ensure the entire bottom is covered.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, whisk together all the custard ingredients until well combined. Dip slices of babka into the custard and arrange in the casserole dish so that half of each slice is on top of another.
- Step 3 Pour remaining custard over the bread. Cover with foil and set in the fridge overnight.
- Step 4 The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 F. Uncover the dish and sprinkle sugar over the top.
- Step 5 Bake for 45 minutes, until the top is sufficiently browned and custard is slightly puffy and set.