This panettone french toast bake features dried fruit- and citrus-studded panettone bread, maple syrup, and a 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!
Hello, holidays.🎄🎅 We decorated the house this weekend and now all my brain wants to focus on are baking and eating Christmas cookies (starting with gingerbread spritz, perhaps??), finding time to fit in all the Christmas movies I want/need to watch before the big day, and collecting all of the holiday-scented candles I can get my hands on.
Judging by how past years go, I’ll ace the first one, squeak by on the second, and come up short on the last. Analysis paralysis normally sets in and I call it good with one solitary balsam fir candle.
It’s looking like I’ll have to make a little room for thinking about how delicious my Christmas morning breakfast of panettone french toast will be, because how could you not savor the thought of perfectly-flavored panettone bread combined with warm spices and maple syrup all baked up in one pan?
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. 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 devour it piece by piece that way. 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 discount department chains <– where I got mine this year).
Panettone is a sweet bread filled with raisins and candied citrus fruit pieces. Because this Italian Christmastime staple has a bold flavor on its own, it makes a wonderful base to use for a french toast or a french toast 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 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 16 ounces of panettone. That amount will fill an 8″ x 8″ baking dish. I usually buy a loaf that’s just over 32 ounces to have extra to snack on, or make a double batch if feeding a larger crowd.
The base of this french toast bake is made up of five easy ingredients.
Panettone (obviously) makes up the bulk of this bake, with classic french toast ingredients such as eggs, milk, maple syrup, and ground cinnamon rounding out the rest.
Now, you could stop there and have yourself a merry little breakfast. Or! You can take it a step further like I did and sprinkle a layer of crumbs over top. It definitely takes it over the top, but it is the holidays, after all.
My crumb recipe is also simple, consisting of brown sugar, ground cinnamon, melted butter, and all-purpose flour. All that’s left is a recommend dusting of confectioners’ sugar over top to serve!
No overnight soaking is required for this recipe so you can throw it together on the fly. The steps are really simple! First cut your panettone into roughly one-inch cubes (it doesn’t have to be precise), then add them to your greased baking dish.
Whisk together the eggs, milk (your preferred variety, I usually use 2%), maple syrup, and ground cinnamon, then pour it all over top of the panettone.
Now it’s time for the crumb topping. 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.
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!
Right when you finish scattering the crumbs over top, start heating the oven. The pre-heat time is all this festive breakfast bake needs for absorbing the liquid!
Other Christmas favorites
Each year I look forward to a handful of recipes we make just around the holidays, and this panettone french toast bake is one of them.
While I wouldn’t drink it with this french toast in the morning, this completely cooked eggnog has become a family favorite.
- Dust the top of this french toast bake with confectioners’ sugar just prior to serving, otherwise the heat “melts” the sugar and makes it disappear.
- Cover and store leftover portions in the refrigerator.
Panettone French Toast Bake with Crumb Topping
For the french toast:
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup milk (your preferred variety)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 16 oz Panettone cut into approximate 1" cubes
For the crumb topping:
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) unsalted butter melted
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- Confectioners' sugar for serving
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, maple syrup, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
- Cut panettone into approximately 1" 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 oven to 350°F.
- To make the crumb topping, whisk together brown sugar and 1/4 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 has absorbed the liquid and is set.
- Let the french toast bake cool slightly in the baking dish before dusting with confectioners' sugar, slicing, and serving. Store leftover portions in the refrigerator.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.