What could possibly make a french toast breakfast any better? How about cream cheese, blueberries and a hint of fresh lavender. Kathy Gehrt's Discover Cooking with Lavender (Florentia Press, 2010) includes this scrumptious Deep-Dish French Toast with Lavender recipe, revolutionizing the way you do breakfast. This excerpt is taken from the chapter "Sweet Secrets."
Deep-Dish Lavender French Toast with Blueberries
Makes 12 servings
Looking for a special breakfast or brunch recipe? This oven-baked French toast combines bread, eggs, milk and sugar with cream cheese, blueberries and nuts. The secret ingredient—lavender—makes all the other ingredients taste even better, a great dish for an Easter buffet.
• 1 teaspoon butter for coating the baking dish
• 1 large (1 1/2 to 1 3/4-pound) brioche loaf cut into 1-inch cubes, about 10 cups
• 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into 18 cubes
• 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
• 1/2 cup blueberries
• 8 large eggs
• 2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon lavender buds, ground into powder
• Pinch of nutmeg
• Pinch of ground cloves
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• Powdered sugar
• Pure maple syrup, warmed
1. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Place half the bread in cubes in a single layer, covering the bottom of the dish. Scatter the cream cheese cubes, nuts and blueberries on top. Cover with the remaining bread cubes.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, lavender, nutmeg, and cloves. Pour this mixture evenly over the bread cubes. Press down on the bread cubes to make sure they absorb the egg mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for four hours overnight. To ensure bread absorbs the egg mixture, put a heavy item (e.g., two pounds of butter) on top of the plastic wrap to weigh down the bread.
3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the dish from the refrigerator and let it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.
4. Bake the French toast covered for 20 minutes, then uncover it and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the cubes are nicely toasted.
5. Place the dish on a cooling rack, then drizzle the melted butter over the French toast. Let sit for 5 minutes. Cut into squares.
6. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve with warm maple syrup.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from Discover Cooking with Lavender: Fresh & Flavorful Recipes, published by Florentia Press, 2010.
Click here for the main article, From Garden to Table: Cooking with Lavender.