This was the perfect breakfast for those weekend mornings when you just want to have a lie-in and relax, but still want a tasty breakfast. It's also good for a crowd. We had this for breakfast on Valentine's morning, the red of the raspberry's made it in the spirit of the holiday and it was something super easy for me to throw together the night before and just pop in the oven Saturday morning.
This recipe was inspired by a Cranberry Lemon French Toast Strata that the fabulous mom of my "adopted" little sister made for the fam when we were all in VT skiing over the Christmas holidays. I don't have the actual recipe but loved the dish so much I decided to create on of my own and I think it was quite successful
Raspberry Mascarpone French Toast Strata
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 loaf of Italian bread - from the bakery - cut into 2 inch cubes
1 cup Bel Gioioso Mascarpone Cheese
zest from 1 lemon
1 1/4 cup milk - separated
1 pint raspberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
butter - to grease baking dish
1. Butter bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish. Pour maple syrup into baking dish, spreading in a even layer. Add 1/2 of the bread cubes to the bottom of the dish, making sure to pack them in tightly.
2. Mix Marscarpone, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of milk together until well combined. Place dollops of the Mascarpone over the layer of bread, using about 1/2 of the Mascarpone mixture. Spread 1/2 of the raspberries on top and then top with the remaining bread cubes.
3. Whisk together eggs, 3/4 cup of milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla and pour over the bread in the baking dish. Press the bread cubes down to help soak the egg mixture into each piece. Top with the remaining Mascarpone mixture and raspberries. Cover with aluminum foil and place int he refrigerator overnight.4. Preheat oven to 350F. Place covered strata in the heated oven and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil after 30 minutes to let the top get golden brown. Serve drizzled with maple syrup.
Many french toast stratas call for cream cheese but I love the flavor of mascarpone much better and felt that it would work well with the raspberries. Boy did it! It added a really subtle richness with just a touch of sweetness.
The boy and I both really liked this. The flavors worked so well together and since I made it the night before, it allowed us to sit together and have some coffee/tea while it baked rather than someone having to run around the kitchen pulling breakfast together. I whipped up some quick maple fennel sausages which were quite tasty and complemented the strata very well. Doubling this recipe is super easy and would make a great brunch dish for a larger group. Enjoy!