The way you build it really factors into your success of this dish, so make sure to read the instructions first. This is a prep the night before, and bake the next morning. I would recommend it not sitting in the refrigerator for more than 15 hours.
¾ lb loaf of bread (we use texas toast which is just a thick cut white bread, it works best if the bread is not heavy or hard, brioche or white bread works well too)
¼ cup liquid margarine or melted butter/margarine
½ cup of half and half
½ cup of liquid eggs (you can use real eggs, but the liquid egg combines with the other liquid better)
Pinch of salt (no more than 1/8 tsp)
¼ tsp vanilla extract (you can use real or imitation, or even real vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from ½ a stick)
2 tbsp sugar, split in two
The night before:
*Mix the half and half, liquid egg, salt and vanilla, split almost evenly into 2 containers, about 60/40 and set aside.
*Take a casserole dish or cake pan that is about 9”x9” and heavily coat the inside with your liquid margarine/butter. Some will absorb into the bread, and if there is only a light coat, you will end up needing to scrub the pan pretty hard. (I have also heard you can do this in a crock pot, but I am not sure how you'd go about that)
*Cut the bread into cubes no larger 1 inch squares and place half of it into the casserole dish and set the other half aside (either in a bag or bowl).
*Evenly spread out the bread and drizzle the smaller amount of the liquid over the bread in the pan, trying to get the tops of all the bread wet (not soaked)
*Sprinkle cinnamon evenly across the bread, depending on your taste. This is optional, especially if you are putting fruit in your bake, some won't pair well with cinnamon. Types of fruit you can try are banana, blueberries, strawberries or apple slices, any of these can be fresh or frozen. If putting fruit in your bake, would recommend a small layer at this point, with a sprinkling on top, so don’t put all your fruit in now.
*Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar evenly across the layer.
*Place remaining bread into pan, pressing down if it is a bit tall for your pan.
*Drizzle remaining liquid carefully over bread, making sure to get corners. It is helpful to turn the dish so you can see it at different angles in case you only got half of an area.
*Sprinkle cinnamon and then the other 1 tbsp of sugar evenly across pan.
*Tear a piece of foil that will cover the top of your pan, spray the foil with pan spray anywhere the bread will touch, and cover the pan tightly around edges. You don’t want the oven air exposed to it because you will end up drying it out into croutons.
*Place in refrigerator overnight.
The next morning:
*Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. It is near ready when you take a fork to the middle of it, and when you push some of the bread out of the way to see the bottom of the pan, you don’t see any wet bread.
*Remove the foil and let cook for another 5-10 minutes so the sugar can get a little crunchy on top.
*Take out of oven and enjoy! Can sprinkle with powdered sugar, fruit sauce, or syrup.