1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. cinnamon, optional
12 thick slices challah or brioche
1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries
5 large eggs
1½ cups milk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
For the caramel, bring the brown sugar, butter and cinnamon to a boil in a small saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon. Let boil for 2 minutes and turn off the heat. The caramel will be brown, thick and bubbly.
Drizzle the caramel evenly over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch (3.5 L) baking dish. Cover with 6 slices of bread. Scatter the berries overtop. Place the remaining 6 slices of bread on the fruit.
For the custard, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and salt in a medium-size bowl. Pour this evenly over the bread. Press down lightly with plastic wrap so that the bread absorbs the custard. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Remove the plastic wrap and bake the French toast uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes until puffed and golden. Cut into squares, invert to show the caramel and place on a serving platter.
Variation: Sliced bananas, raspberries or a combination of both may be used instead of the blueberries.
Chef’s Tip: To clean the dried caramel from the pot, fill the pot with water and bring to a simmer. Let sit and then clean. Residue will wash away quickly.