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It’s not too early to start counting down the days until the holidays, right? Although fall is by far my favorite season in Michigan and I’m not at all in a hurry to see it turn into winter (my least favorite season in Michigan), I’m already looking forward to the holidays. All the normal reasons apply—good food, good cheer, etc.—but this year, I’m most excited about meeting someone very special: my first ever baby nephew! He was born a few weeks ago, and while my brother and sister-in-law have been plying me with a constant supply of photos, there’s no substitute for an in-person visit. After all, how can you get baby snuggles when you’re two thousand miles away?!
Now, I don’t know a whole lot about babies, so I had to look online to see when they start eating solid foods. While it seems that by the time of my visit in December, my nephew could be eating solid foods, I’m guessing that French toast casserole isn’t on the list of doctor-recommended options. BUT that doesn’t mean that his parents (and grandparents) can’t chow down on this cranberry orange French toast casserole—and they very much deserve to, because they’ve been working so hard to take care of the new addition to the family!
As I’ve mentioned before, food is my love language, and I especially enjoy treating people to fancy homemade breakfasts. This cranberry orange French toast casserole is 100% dairy-free, which means that everyone in my family (minus the wee little one, sadly) can revel in its deliciousness. Traditionally, French toast is made with dairy milk, but I’ve found that you can use Silk® Almondmilk (with a new silky smooth taste you’ll love!) in this casserole without skimping on flavor or fluffiness—plus, it has 50% more calcium than dairy milk!
Both the vanilla and original varieties work great in this recipe, and while I personally prefer the unsweetened versions, feel free to use whichever you like. If you’re not sure where to shop, check out the refrigerator section at Walmart for a wide selection of products.
If “home for the holidays” were a flavor, this French toast casserole would embody it perfectly, with its bright, cheery notes of cranberry and orange, crunch of pecans, and subtle but ever-present warmth of cinnamon—but even so, there’s no reason we shouldn’t enjoy it throughout fall! What could be cozier than surprising your family with a special breakfast on a crisp, cool morning before heading out to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard? It’s okay, I’m basic and I know it. #basicandproud
When do you start counting down to the holidays? How do you feel about retailers already decorating and selling holiday merchandise? Regardless of whether you’re solidly in the fall mindset or already making plans for the end of the year, there are lots of dairy-free Silk® Almondmilk recipes to fit any occasion – be sure to check them out!
- 2 cups cranberries, divided
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 loaf challah (1 pound), cut into cubes or torn into chunks
- 8 eggs
- 2 3/4 cups Silk® Unsweetened Almondmilk
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (1 orange should yield approximately this amount)
- zest from 1 orange
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) dairy-free margarine, chilled and cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Place 1 1/2 cups cranberries, sugar, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring periodically, for 5-8 minutes, or until the cranberries burst and the sauce takes on the consistency of runny jam. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cranberries.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan. Put the pieces of challah in the pan. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the Silk® Unsweetened Almondmilk and orange juice. In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest and sugar. Add this to the egg mixture, along with the orange extract and cinnamon. Pour the mixture evenly over the challah.
- Spoon dollops of the cranberry sauce on top of and in between pieces of challah.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the non-dairy margarine and work it into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are no bigger than the size of peas. Stir in the chopped pecans and sprinkle the mixture on top of the challah.
- 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.
- Casserole recipe adapted from The Casserole Queens Cookbook.
- Streusel topping recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
Cake Lover says
I am sensing a French Toast Casserole theme here. Welcome to the family, Cranberry Orange! And welcome to your new baby nephew to the family, Mara! This flavor combination sounds very inviting. I wish fresh cranberries were available right now. I also appreciate another dairy-free recipe. About counting down to the holidays…seeing Christmas decorations at Costco a month ago made me groan. It’s too early! Please let me wait until after school starts and I’ve got Halloween under my belt to let me know I’m behind on end of the year holiday preparations!
Haha yes, there really is now a “family” of French toast casserole recipes! I actually used frozen cranberries, since I went overboard at the store last year (or maybe it was two years ago?) and still had a bunch tucked away in the back of the freezer. And I agree – I’d love for stores to wait until after Halloween!
chef mimi says
Beautiful! A recipe definitely to keep as the holidays approach! (Maybe you can puree a bit of the casserole and mix it with apple sauce?!!)
Thanks, Mimi! And I hadn’t thought of mixing with applesauce…I’ll leave it up to the new parents whether they want to share 😉
David | Spiced says
Congrats on the new nephew! I’m sure you are seriously counting down the days to get out and visit him. 🙂 So I’m guessing the little guy won’t be on solid foods when you visit, but I can 100%, wholeheartedly say that your brother and sister-in-law will love you forever if you show up and make food! Oh, and maybe watch the little guy while they sneak in a nap. We had visitors after Robbie was born, and all I remember is being so grateful for food and a nap. Haha! Speaking of food, I’m thinking this casserole sounds amazing! I love all of the flavors you’ve got going on there. Can I place an order for delivery? Say for tomorrow morning at about 7am? 🙂
Thanks, David! Food and extra sleep really does sound like the perfect gift, doesn’t it? Mara’s Kitchen doesn’t currently do delivery orders, but let me know if you ever find yourself in Michigan 😉
Congrats to you and your family on the birth of your nephew! Unfortunately, it will probably be a while before he can enjoy your fabulous cranberry orange french toast but if you visit and make it for the new mom, you will definitely score points. I make an orange flavored french toast casserole which is a Ina Garten recipe for my family every Christmas morning and it is always a much anticipated treat. I love the idea of adding cranberries to the mix and have pinned your recipe to try it out this Christmas.
I’m so glad this caught your eye! The cranberries add a nice touch of tartness and color – I hope your family will enjoy this version as much as we do 🙂
Do you know that I am a fan of your casserole dishes? I guess not. But now you know!😁 This will be perfect for a brunch! Thanks for joining Fiesta Friday and for bringing this lovely dish! Enjoy the party!
I’m so glad to hear that! I’m quite smitten with them myself…which is why I’ve made so many different varieties 🙂 Thanks for hosting this week, and I hope you’re having a great weekend!
Looks delicious! I’m always a little scared to try substituting almond milk for cow’s milk in recipes so it’s great to know that it works here!
Yes, I feel the same way – in some applications it doesn’t quite work, but rest assured that it works like a charm in this casserole! Let me know what you think if you try it 🙂
Debbie Spivey says
Looks delicious Mara!
Thanks, Debbie! I’m glad it caught your eye.
This looks beautiful! I love the cranberries in it and think it would make a lovely breakfast when it gets to Christmas.
Yes, this would be perfect for Christmas morning! I hope you get a chance to try it!
Alison's Allspice says
This is such a great idea! I love the flavor combinations, especially the pecans. Yum!
Thanks, Alison! I even added a few extra pecans to my piece after baking 😉
Zeba@Food For The Soul says
This casserole looks delightful and will surely be a crowd pleaser! Yummy 🙂
Oh it is definitely a crowd pleaser – my family can attest to that! Thanks, Zeba, and thanks for hosting this week!
Beyond the Chicken Coop says
I love cranberries and breakfast so this is a perfect recipe for me! It looks absolutely scrumptious!
I’m glad this caught your eye! I hope you get a chance to try it out sometime. I’ve still got some in the freezer that I’m looking forward to enjoying 😉