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Looking for an easy make ahead Christmas breakfast idea? Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s baked French toast recipe is easy to assemble the evening before and bake in the morning while you’re unwrapping gifts.

Ina Garten attends The Barefoot Contessa book signing at William Sonoma on November 14, 2008
Ina Garten | Michael Bezjian/WireImage

Barefoot Contessa’s raspberry baked French toast recipe

Garten’s make ahead raspberry baked French toast recipe takes the concept of the custard soaked favorite and adds a sweet element with fruit. It’s also far easier to just bake and serve for breakfast, rather than frying batches of French toast.

Garten offered this tip while making the baked breakfast on an episode of Barefoot Contessa: “It’s really important to use day old bread because it soaks up the custard.”


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 10 extra-large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups half-and-half
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 cups (1-inch-diced) day-old challah bread
  • 12 ounces fresh raspberries

Begin by greasing a 9 x 13 x 2-inch oval baking dish with butter. Add a layer of cubed bread to the baking dish, sprinkle with the raspberries and cover with another layer of bread.

Whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, 1/3 cup of sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl and pour the egg mixture over the bread and raspberries. Make sure all of the bread pieces are covered by the custard by pressing down on the cubed pieces. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and cover with plastic wrap.

The baked French toast can be refrigerated one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, until the custard is set and the top is puffed and browned. Garten recommends checking the French toast after 45 minutes and covering it lightly with foil if it starts to brown too much.

Cool the French toast bake for 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, add more orange zest, and pour maple syrup over each serving, as desired.


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Ina Garten has a more traditional French toast recipe

If the casserole-style French toast recipe isn’t appealing, Garten has a more traditional recipe, also made with challah or brioche bread with a couple of extra ingredients that make it just a little more special. She suggests using half and half instead of milk “if you really want to be over the top.”


  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 1½ cups half-and-half or milk
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large loaf of challah or brioche bread
  • Unsalted butter
  • Vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the eggs, half-and-half or milk, orange zest, honey, vanilla, and salt together in a shallow dish. Dip the slices of the bread, cut ¾ inch thick, and soak in the egg mixture for a few minutes, turning over to coat both sides.

“The longer you soak it and the dryer the bread is, the better,” Garten shared on Barefoot Contessa.

Heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the bread, cooking 3 minutes on each side, until browned. As you cook the French toast, place it on a sheet pan and put in the oven to keep warm as you cook the remaining bread slices.

Serve with maple syrup, a dusting of confectioners’ sugar, or fruit preserves.