Well, it’s that time of year again when my refrigerator is bursting with apples because we’ve made not one, not two, but THREE trips to various apple orchards, and yet without fail each trip ends with the boyfriend insisting on picking “just a few more!” To be fair, though, he’s in the kitchen preparing an apple coffee cake as I write, so I can’t say that he’s not doing his part to help use them up.
For my part, I whipped up this apple pie French toast casserole! After falling head over heels in love with the cherry pie French toast casserole I created in February, I immediately started brainstorming ideas for other flavor variations, but I decided to hold off on this one until fall, when I knew we’d be up to our eyeballs in freshly picked apples.
Have you ever waited a really long time for something and in the meantime built it up in your head to such a degree that the actual thing turned out to be a bit disappointment? I definitely have, but trust me, this was NOT one of those times. This apple pie French toast casserole will impress you and your fellow brunch-goers with your very first bite…if not sooner! Its cozy, cinnamon-filled aroma is so inviting that you may find it hard not to yank the pan from the oven a few minutes early. But as amazing as it smells, it tastes even more amazing: how can you go wrong with tender, sweet challah cascading with juicy apple chunks and topped with a crispy, crumbly walnut streusel? Answer: you can’t!
One loaf of challah makes a full 9×13 casserole, so this recipe is perfect if you’ve got a group (~6-8 people), but it also keeps quite well in the fridge for several days if you have leftovers—just warm ’em up for a minute in the microwave and you’ll be good to go. This casserole is easier to make than a pie or a ton of individual slices of French toast, so it’s a win-win: you get the flavor and comfort of both but with just a fraction of the effort!
How has fall been treating you? Ours here in southeastern Michigan has been unusually warm for the most part, but that certainly hasn’t stopped us from going about our customary fall activities, like apple-picking and doughnut-eating. What are your favorite fall traditions?
- 4 cups peeled and diced apples (about 4 medium apples, cut into 1/2-inch cubes)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon allspice
- squeeze of lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- 1 loaf challah (1 pound), cut into cubes or torn into chunks
- 8 eggs
- 3 cups milk (non-dairy is fine)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter or margarine (non-dairy is fine), chilled and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- Combine all the ingredients for the filling and place in a non-stick skillet. Cook over medium-low heat until the apples are softened (but not mushy), about 4-5 minutes (see notes).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan. Put the bread chunks in the pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread chunks.
- Spoon dollops of the apple pie filling in between and on top of the bread chunks.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and work it into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are no bigger than the size of peas. Stir in the chopped walnuts and sprinkle the mixture on top of the bread chunks.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on the consistency you prefer: 40 minutes for a softer/wetter texture, up to 50 minutes for a firmer texture.
- The casserole can be assembled in advance, covered, and refrigerated overnight. I recommend taking the casserole out of the refrigerator while the oven is preheating. You may also need to bake the casserole a few minutes longer, since it is going into the oven cold rather than at room temperature.
- The amount of sugar (both granulated and brown) for the apple pie filling will vary somewhat depending on the type of apples you use. I used Jonagolds for this recipe, which are considered sweet-tart apples. If you use a tart variety like Granny Smith, you will probably want to add more sugar than the recipe specifies. The time it takes for the apples to soften may also vary somewhat depending on the type; for instance, it may take more than 4-5 minutes for harder varieties such as Granny Smiths.
- I would not recommend using this filling recipe in an actual apple pie, as there is no thickening agent.
- Casserole recipe adapted from The Casserole Queens Cookbook.
- Streusel topping recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
Sounds delightful! Just what I need when I am wanting breakfast or dessert beyond ordinary!🍎Jumping into leaf piles is one of our traditions, but not enough leaves are down yet! It’s been warm in Indiana too! -Julia
Yes, exactly…this hits the spot when you’re craving something special. I haven’t jumped into piles of leaves since I was a kid, but that sounds like fun!
chef mimi says
Fabulous! This would be so great for company!
Yes, definitely! I don’t have visitors often, but when I do, it’s French toast casserole time!
Patty K-P says
I can help take some of those apples off your hands! 😀 Loving this no-fuss French toast casserole. I can only imagine how good it makes the house smell and so inviting for brunch guests. YUM!!!
I wish you could – it seems like nearly a third of our fridge is taken up by apples! I hope you get a chance to try this 🙂
Mara this looks unbelievably delicious and decadent. Holy cow!
Thanks so much, Jess! I’m glad it caught your eye 🙂
Stephanie | Worth Whisking says
Love this recipe, Mara! French toast is my absolute favorite breakfast food, and jazzing it up for fall and to feed a crowd is perfect. Definitely bookmarking this recipe to feed my holiday houseguests!
I hope you and your guests love this as much as we do! Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie 🙂
Jenna Owens (@aSavoryFeast) says
Wow, this sounds AMAZING! Definitely the perfect Fall breakfast.
Thanks so much, Jenna, and thanks for sharing this on Facebook! I hope you get to try it at some point 🙂
Debbie Spivey says
Mara – I need this in my life! Pinned!
I think we all do! Let me know how it goes if you try it!
This looks so yummy and perfect for a brunch I’m hosting next weekend. Do you think it could be prepared the night before and baked in the morning?
Good question! I’ve seen similar recipes that are prepared the night before, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with this one. I might keep the streusel topping separate, though, because I’d hate for that to soak up liquid overnight and get mushy. Let me know how it goes if you try it! I hope you love it as much as we do 🙂
I’m in heaven! My two favorites in one dish!
Sounds like this is perfect for you! Let me know what you think if you try it!
This looks like the perfect Saturday morning breakfast treat! YUM!
Absolutely! It’s a great way to kick off a relaxing and leisurely weekend.
Angie | Fiesta Friday says
This sounds so good!! Perfect for a breakfast/brunch potluck we sometimes have at our school. I’ll bring this next time! Thanks, Mara!
I bet it will be gone in a flash! I hope you love it as much as we do 🙂
This sounds like a perfect way to use up apples 🙂 And to have french toast casserole. Admittedly the French Toast Casserole was the way to my heart.
French toast casserole is the way to my heart as well…it’s like a big hug in casserole form! Thanks for stopping by and for hosting this week!
Jasmine S. says
Love, love, love!
Thanks so much, Jasmine!
Matt @ RoughEats says
I love apples, and french toast. Sounds like a winner!
It’s definitely a winner in my book! Thanks for stopping by, Matt!
Julie is Hostess At Heart says
Oh heavens Mara this casserole looks amazing!
Thanks, Julie! I hope you’re having a great weekend.
Yep! That has me wanting a piece immediately!
Thanks for the recipe!
You and me both! Thanks, Michelle!
Oh gosh I think I’m a little in love with this casserole! And your photos are so incredible. 🙂
Thanks so much, Mollie! I bet if you try it, you’ll be a lot in love with it!
This recipe makes me want to invite some people over for breakfast just for an excuse to make it! But maybe I can just try to make it anyway!! I’m sure my family would love it! With all the apples everywhere we look here in Michigan, this is the best time to try apple recipes. 🙂
Haha yes, I know what you mean! It works equally well when you have fewer people, though – and then you get to have leftovers! Leftovers are a wonderful thing 🙂
I make something similar using Great Harvest cinnamon bread and it is always a hit. Your version looks delicious too. Happy FF!
Oh that sounds delightful! I’ll have to try switching up the bread I use as the base. Thanks for stopping by and for hosting this week!
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
It’s hard to not pick just one more apple…or just one more handful! They add up quickly. This french toast looks like a perfect breakfast! I love fall and apples are part of the love!
It really is difficult to stop, especially when the orchard charges by the bag rather than by the pound. I hope you get a chance to try this sometime!
Oh gosh, this is just perfect! Such a luxurious breakfast!
Luxurious indeed! Thanks for stopping by, Petra!
What a great idea and a lovely dish to just tuck in to! 🙂
It has quickly become one of our favorites, and I hope it’ll soon become one of yours as well! Thanks, Petra!
David @ Spiced says
I have a confession to make, Mara. Somehow I missed this amazing casserole in my feed when it first came out…but you can imagine the pure joy on my face when I clicked over and found this beauty waiting on me! Now if only I had an actual plate of this one waiting for me, too. Haha! This sounds perfect for one of these crisp Saturday mornings we’re having lately. Love the fresh apples in there, too! I’m just like your boyfriend…there’s always room for just a couple more apples! 🙂
Better late than never, right?! We certainly picked our money’s worth of apples (that was the easy part) – now we have to make sure none of them go to waste!
Oh yum – these photos make me realize I MUST make this this weekend. Gorgeous!
Thanks, Jess! I hope you love this as much as we do, and please let me know how it goes if you make it 🙂
Liz Collet says
Found You and this recipe coming along from FiestaFriday…. lovely blog, my compliments! Apple pi’s a fine idea for my weekend, thanks for sharing such appetizing recipe, Liz
Thank you so much, Liz! I’m glad you stopped by and I hope you get a chance to try this French toast casserole sometime soon 🙂
Cake Lover says
With houseguests this weekend, I couldn’t wait to make this breakfast casserole. Everyone loved it and agreed that it was worth the wait (my oven wanted to take longer to bake it). One family member even liked it more than the cherry pie filling version. I like BOTH.
I’m so glad to hear that you made this! The oven in my current apartment does tend to bake things faster than other ovens I’ve used (I still don’t get how that works). Do you remember how long it took for you?
Cake Lover says
It ended up baking for about an hour.