Crisp on the top with a soft, custardy bottom, this vegan French toast bake is infused with lemon and fresh raspberries. Make it the night before an effortless and beautiful brunch!
I love how brunch is so much more celebratory than a regular breakfast. Even though it’s only a couple of hours past breakfast time, no one raises an eyebrow if a cake or a mimosa makes it’s way onto the table. But the one thing amiss is if you’re in charge of making said brunch, you don’t get to sleep in like everyone else. That is, unless your work has been done ahead of time.
Cue: Overnight Lemon Raspberry French Toast. While this baked French toast can be assembled and sit for an hour before baking, it’s totally fine hanging out in the fridge overnight. This makes the morning so relaxed for everyone! Just pull the French toast out of the fridge while the oven preheats, put on the coffee and everyone gets to chill.
The other thing I love about this dish is that there’s very little mess made during the prep work. Sure, I’ve made things the night before feeling all smug about how great the morning is going to be. But my kitchen was literally hit with every possible dirty dish. This of course means I still get shorted on shut eye because I’m putting my house back together before guests arrive in the morning. Not with this one – a blender and the baking dish are the bulk of your needs here.
For years, I’ve made a Crème Brulée French Toast casserole. When I adopted a vegan diet, I veganized the recipe and so we still enjoy it during the holidays. I’ve used the same base ingredients for the custard. (I.e. the custard powder and silken tofu which replaces the egg and milk mixture in non-vegan French toast.) But instead of a sugary bottom, I decided to dress it up in another way. I added the freshness of lemon and complimented it with colorful, sweet raspberries.
The result is a pretty, easy and flavorful French toast all made in one dish. Arranging the slices of bread in a way that they overlap, encourages the top bits to get crisp. At the same time, the custard soaks and sets the bottoms. It’s so good! I don’t add a lot of sugar to this recipe, just enough for some caramelization to happen. I think it’s nice to get the sweetness once you top things off with maple syrup at serving time. And besides, the berries offer their own perfect sweetness, too.
Tips for Perfect Vegan French Toast:
- use a really nice loaf of bread. You can use French bread, vegan challah, or vegan brioche.
- I have been using the same custard powder my mom used to buy when we were kids. It’s accidentally vegan and it’s awesome. It’s called Bird’s and you can get it in most grocery stores, and on line. This isn’t sponsored in anyway, but I think it adds a lot to the dish. I’ve tried some other brands of vegan custard powders but haven’t found one that tastes as much as traditional custard as Bird’s.
- the lemon juice and zest are key players here, so if either is left out, the dish won’t taste as (you guessed it) lemony.
- the tofu for this recipe is called silken. I have found that dessert tofu is similar, but don’t substitute with regular tofu. The silken variety is…well, silky. It’s very mild with almost no actual tofu flavor. It’s perfect for times like this when we’re trying to get a rich custard quality without eggs.
- you can use whatever plant-based milk you like, but I’d avoid strong flavors like flax and watery varieties like rice milk. My go-to is soy.
Overnight Vegan Lemon Raspberry French Toast Bake
- 1 large loaf of French bread
- 2 cups plant-based milk
- 349 g pkg of silken-tofu, drained
- 1/4 cup vegan custard powder
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 pint fresh raspberries, plus more for serving if desired
- confectioner’s sugar for garnish
- coconut whip and maple syrup, to serve
- Lightly grease a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Slice the loaf of bread into thick slices, about 3/4″-1″.
- Combine the plant-based milk, tofu, custard powder, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest in a blender. Blend on high until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Pour half of the custard mixture into the prepared baking dish. Soak each piece of bread in the mixture for about 30 seconds and then flip soaking for another 30 seconds. Arrange the slices of bread in the baking dish so they overlap a bit, placing a few raspberries in between each piece. Pour the rest of the custard mixture over the top. Sprinkle more raspberries over the top, saving some for serving if desired. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F. While it’s preheating, take the casserole out of the fridge, remove the cover and place it on the counter (especially important if you’re using glassware, we don’t want it breaking with a rapid temperature change.)
- Bake for 30-35 minutes. The top should be crisp and golden, and the custard should be set. Top with more fresh raspberries, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and/or maple syrup, to serve.