When we have guests stay with us, I always like the idea – but never the execution – of french toast. This Smitten Kitchen approach totally changed that. As Deb notes, it’s a bit more bread pudding than french toast but I’m pretty sure if you say, “hey who wants baked french toast for breakfast tomorrow?” then everyone’s hand is gonna fly up. 

Prep Time: 10 minutes + overnight | Cook Time: 30 minutes | Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 loaf supermarket Challah bread, cut into 1″ slices
  • 3 cups whole milk (or whatever is in the fridge)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Any (or none) of the variation ingredients below


Grease a 9×13 pan or casserole dish with butter. Arrange the slices of challah bread in no more than three layers. Cut some pieces into smaller sizes to fill the gaps. If you only have 2 layers, that’s great.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Pour over the layered challah bread. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon then cover with tinfoil or saran wrap and place in the fridge overnight – this gives the bread lots of time to soak up the custard.

Whenever you wake up in the morning, uncover the mixture and bake at 425F for about 30 minutes. When ready, the baked french toast will be pretty poofy and look brown and crispy on top.

Serve with your favorite toppings.


  • Add a few teaspoons of vanilla or almond extract
  • Add a layer of sliced almonds in between your layers of challah bread
  • Top with strawberries, blueberries, powdered sugar, maple syrup or all of the above
  • Make it boozy – add a few tablespoons of Bailey’s, Cointreau, Frangelico…lots of options. (The alcohol will cook off but the flavor will remain.)
  • Add some citrus with a teaspoon or so of orange zest