This baked panettone french toast features dried fruit- and citrus-studded panettone bread, maple syrup, and an (optional) crumb cake topping. There’s no overnight soaking or french toast flipping required for this special breakfast or brunch dish. It’s perfect for the Christmas season!
Christmas morning breakfast deserves something extra special, and this baked panettone french toast is it.
While panettone is absolutely delicious as-is, my favorite way to use it is in baked recipes like this french toast (or panettone bread pudding for a dessert version!). Its unique flavor instantly takes a simple dish to the next level.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- It stands to be repeated: panettone brings the best flavor for baked french toast. Candied citrus and dried fruit flavor this Italian Christmas bread beautifully — and easily.
- There’s no need for individual bread flipping that comes along with standard french toast and that means everyone in the family can eat at the same time.
- And I mean, there’s a layer of crumb cake crumbs over top if you want them. And you know how much I love a crumb topping.
What is Panettone?
Every holiday season I buy a loaf of panettone and do my best to resist the urge to tear into it with my hands and straight-up devour it piece by piece. And while I’ve been intrigued by homemade panettone recipes, they seem quite involved and require more work than I’m personally willing to spend on something I can easily find at my grocery store (or online, or places like TJ Maxx and Costco).
Panettone is a sweet cake/bread filled with raisins and candied citrus fruit pieces. With origins in Milan, this Italian Christmastime staple has a bold flavor on its own and makes a wonderful base to use for french toast or a french toast casserole/bake.
Another reason it’s great for french toast is that it’s perfectly fresh, but it’s not too fresh. The commercially-made, mass-produced panettone loaves we frequently find here in the U.S. have fairly long expiration dates, so they don’t really need to be opened and let to sit to get stale. Once opened they’re soft as intended, but can be cubed right away without risk of crumbling.
Since panettone is available for purchase in a variety of sizes, I’ve specified that this recipe calls for either 500 grams or 16 ounces of panettone. Those amounts are just about the same and this recipe isn’t finicky. That amount will fill an 8″ x 8″ baking dish.
The base of this french toast bake is made up of five easy ingredients, though you can take things a step further with an optional (and delicious) crumb topping if you like. It is the holidays, after all.
- Panettone: Loaves are commonly found in one or two pound packages (or 500 or 1000 grams). I like to buy a larger one to have extra to snack on in addition to making this recipe. Some varieties feature chunks of chocolate, but I prefer the classic citrus/fruit version for panettone french toast.
- Eggs: You’ll need four large eggs for this recipe, which form the base of french toast flavor. With somewhere between eight and nine cups of panettone cubes, you don’t have to worry about this recipe being too eggy.
- Milk: One cup of your preferred milk is used. I like 2%, but you can also sub in a portion of half-and-half or cream for something richer.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is always a treat when served over french toast, but this recipe gets sweetness and flavor from including it in the egg and milk mixture. Please use pure maple syrup (and not artificial “pancake” syrup).
- Crumb topping: This is optional, but adds a special touch. I love this panettone french toast with or without it.
No overnight soaking is required for this recipe so you can throw it together on the fly. The steps are really simple!
- Add the eggs to a mixing bowl and whisk well until beaten. Pour in the milk and maple syrup, then add the cinnamon. Whisk again until combined.
- Cut your panettone into roughly one-inch cubes (it doesn’t have to be precise), then add them to a greased baking dish. Pour the egg/milk mixture over top and lightly press down so the panettone is moistened.
- Now’s the time for the optional crumb topping. If you like, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon, then stir in the melted butter. The mixture will be very liquid-y. Now add the flour and work it in until scatterable clumps form. If the mixture is still too soft, add extra flour, a tablespoon at a time, until the consistency comes together. Scatter the crumbs over top of the panettone french toast.
- Whether or not you’ve added the crumb topping, once the panettone french toast bake has been assembled, set the oven to 350°F/177°C. The 15-20 minutes it takes to preheat is all the time it needs to soak up the liquid.
A lot of french toast bake recipes out there require assembling it and sticking it in the fridge overnight for the bread to absorb the liquid. While overnight recipes certainly have their place, this panettone french toast bake requires no ahead prep!
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the center has set and no liquid rises up when the surface is pressed.
- Serving: Whether you add the crumb topping or not, a dusting of powdered sugar over the top of this panettone french toast bake is highly recommended. As is a drizzle of maple syrup! If this french toast is still warm when serving, shake the sugar just prior to serving so it doesn’t melt away and disappear.
- Storage Instructions: Store leftover portions in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. To freeze, wrap in foil and store in air-tight containers/bags for up to 3 months.
- Reheating Instructions: Cover with foil and place in a 350°F oven until heated throughout, about 15-20 minutes (or a bit longer if heating from frozen).
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Baked Panettone French Toast
For the French Toast:
- 16 oz (454g) panettone cut into approximately 1-inch cubes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup (240ml) milk (your preferred variety, I use 2%)
- ½ cup (120ml) maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the Crumb Topping (optional):
- ⅓ cup (65g) packed brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup (56g) unsalted butter melted
- ⅔ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (90g) all-purpose flour
- Confectioners’ sugar for serving
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, maple syrup, and ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Cut panettone into approximately 1-inch cubes and place in a greased 8" x 8" baking dish. Press down on the bread cubes a little bit so they're in an even layer.
- Pour egg mixture over top of the panettone. At this time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- If adding the crumb topping, whisk together brown sugar and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir. Add the flour and stir it into the mixture until it isn't too wet and it can form crumbs that hold their shape. If it's still too wet, add additional flour one Tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
- Scatter crumbs evenly over top of the french toast bake.
- Once the oven is heated, bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the panettone bake has absorbed the liquid and is set.
- Let it cool slightly in the baking dish before dusting with confectioners' sugar, slicing, and serving with maple syrup.
- Store leftover french toast portions in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Cooked french toast pieces can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in an air-tight container or plastic bag and frozen for 3 months.
- To reheat, cover the french toast with foil (this helps to prevent it from drying out) and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until warmed throughout, adding extra time if reheating from frozen.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.