As the cold snap sets in, I’ve been looking for warming breakfasts to cook on weekends with friends. French toast is a classic brunch staple, and baking it this way means you can make enough for several people without having to do it in batches. You can just bung all the ingredients into a dish and sit back and wait for it to bake. It’s a type of cross between a bread and butter pudding and the original version, ideal for a slightly more indulgent option.
One of the reasons I think sourdough works so well for this dish is that it retains it’s texture better than a classic farmhouse loaf, which goes a little bit more soggy. Either type of bread is fine however, it just depends on our preference for the texture. I used a sourdough tin loaf, which had a tighter crumb and more regular shape for this recipe.
Preheat your oven to 180℃. Grease a 24 x 15cm ovenproof baking dish with butter. Whisk the milk, cream, eggs, spices, salt and sugar together with a hand whisk.
Layer your slices of bread in the baking dish, dotting the cherries in between the layers, and scattering a few on top. Pour the liquid over the top, and leave it to soak for 10-20 minutes (if your bread is stale it may need a few minutes longer).
Sprinkle muscovado sugar over the top, cover with tin foil, and place in the oven for 55-65 minutes, or until the liquid has set. Remove the tin foil for the last 10 minutes of the bake, to allow the top to crisp up and become golden.
Remove from the oven and leave it to settle for 5 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle extra muscovado sugar and a dollop of crème fraîche with each portion to serve, then grate a little orange zest on top for extra flavour.