NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 2, 2013

A ham and cheese French toast built by the loaf

How do you make a big, bold, savory French toast even bigger, bolder and more savory? Instead of building it a slice at a time, you build it by the loaf.

My inspiration was a pillow-soft loaf of unsliced sandwich bread. Looking at it, I wondered what would happen if instead of cutting it into traditional slices and frying it a piece at a time — or even assembling it in a layer as a casserole — I instead cut the entire loaf horizontally into a few thick planks, stuffed it, then reassembled it in a loaf pan.

This recipe is the delicious result of that wondering.

Since French toast is such a perfect fall dinner — warm and comforting — I kept the fillings savory with ham, cheddar cheese and turkey. But if you’d rather go sweet, you could substitute jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, fresh berries, even chocolate chips.

While this dish can be assembled and immediately baked, it is even better if you give it time to soak. You can assemble it the night before, then refrigerate until the following day an hour before dinner. Just pop it in the oven when you get home from work.

When selecting your bread, first take a look at the loaf pan you plan to use. You’ll want a loaf that fits comfortably in your pan with a little wiggle room. If you can only find loaves that are too big, just use a serrated knife to trim the loaf to fit before beginning the recipe.

HAM AND CHEESE STUFFED FRENCH TOAST LOAF

Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (10 minutes active)

Servings: 8

1 loaf white sandwich bread, not sliced

3 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 ounces deli sliced ham

8 ounces deli sliced turkey breast

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

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