The quote above is a very accurate description of how I feel lately. Most days I sit and wonder what would have happened if I had done “x” or why I didn’t do “y”. It always eats at me and I drive myself half insane thinking about all of the things I chose not to do. And then when I really sit down and think about it after hours of torturing myself, I realize that even though I may have missed one opportunity, another will likely present itself.
The main problem for me is comparing myself to others that I see online and being disappointed that I don’t have this or that. Organic growth can be hard and that is how I have been trying to grow my blog. I love cooking, baking, taking photos, and everything else that goes along with running a blog. However, it can be hard to not see the growth that you feel you deserve. There’s been times when I have just wanted to stop right where I am and call it quits.
I’d have a lot more free time and a lot more extra money to be completely honest. But I would be missing something that I don’t think I’d find anywhere else and I wouldn’t have that true sense of doing something that I love. I wouldn’t be able to share my desserts and recipes with everyone who follows and supports the blog. I wouldn’t be the person who always has 35+ extra cookies to give away. And I sure as hell wouldn’t be someone who actually enjoys rarely having a free minute outside the kitchen.
I know it’s hard to understand this feeling if you don’t like to bake or cook, it’s just food, right? But I know that everyone either has something that they currently do that they couldn’t imagine giving up or they don’t currently do but wish so desperately that they had the time and/or resources to do. It’s the same for every single person: there is one thing that you love to do and if you couldn’t do it, well, you wouldn’t be you. And I think that it’s just a wonderful thing.
So all of my “complaining” about never having a free minute from the kitchen or spending all my extra money on fancy salts and chocolate is really just part of longstanding love/hate relationship that I have going on. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and stressed but I know that if I didn’t have my blog I would feel extremely unhappy.
Julia Child said, “Find something you’re interested in and keep tremendously interested in it.”
And what an amazing and accurate quote that is. Whether it be baking, painting, writing, or anything else, you will always be happy that you are doing it. And if you don’t feel a little tortured now and again, you’re doing it wrong. ;)
So anyways, enough of the “real” talk, let’s move on to this weeks recipe! And boy oh boy… is this recipe a WINNER. Enter is, Strawberry French Toast Bake. It is simple, easy, and absolutely delicious. I was even surprised when I tasted this! I am a big fan of french toast, always have been, and I must say… this is my new favorite, sorry Grandma Ludy!
The best part about this recipe? It comes together in one baking dish (or pot!) and you don’t have to sit over an oven for 30 minutes flipping sad pieces of egg-soaked bread! I start out by making a super decadent egg/custard mixture to dunk the thick slices of brioche bread in. This egg mixture is the perfect ratio of egg to milk and also includes a little bit of cream cheese to give the dish some much needed tanginess. I also opted to use honey to sweeten it so this recipe is actually refined sugar free— yay! The other ingredients are pretty simple for the french toast: lemon zest (for more tang), vanilla bean seeds, and salt! That’s it. You’ll have a silky rich egg mixture that will produce some seriously amazing FT!
And the strawberry preserves… Now in this recipe I use fresh strawberries as well as strawberry preserves or jam. “Why?” you may ask. Well, I decided to slather on some preserves on one slice of bread, sandwich it with another and dunk that in the custard mixture because why not? I keep everything moist and makes it even MORE flavorful! And hey, this recipe is pretty inexpensive you if you can, buy Bonne Maman. Not sponsored, I just seriously love their products and have been buying them for years.
Now the next step is to stuff a dutch oven or baking dish with the slices of egg-soaked bread, top with fresh sliced strawberries and bake! That’s all. No dipping, flipping, or cold pieces of french toast ever again! Everything is cooked at once and ready in just about an hour. Just scoop a few pieces on to a plate, top with powdered sugar, butter, pure maple syrup, and more fresh strawberries! This Strawberry French Toast Bake is sure to be a crowd pleaser and couldn’t be easier.
If you try this recipe, or any other from the blog, please share your thoughts, feedback, and/or photos with me. I would love to hear from you all! Happy baking everyone!
Strawberry French Toast Bake
2 Loaves of Brioche Bread
1 Jar Strawberry Preserves (I use Bonne Maman!)
6 Large Eggs
4 Ounces Cream Cheese, room temperature
2 Tablespoons Honey
Zest of 1 Lemon
½ Vanilla Bean, split in half and seeds scraped out
½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
6 Tablespoons Butter, melted
1 ½ Cups Whole Milk
2 Cups Strawberries, cut into quarters and divided
Powdered Sugar, for topping
Pure Maple Syrup, for topping
Preheat oven to 375℉. Use 2 tablespoons of the melted butter to grease the inside of a dutch oven or 9x13” baking dish.
Next, if your brioche isn’t already sliced, slice it into 1 inch slices. Spread a layer of jam on one slice of bread and sandwich together with another. Repeat with remaining slices of bread.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream cheese, honey, lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds, salt, and remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until evenly combined. Add in the milk and whisk until evenly combined. Transfer into a shallow dish.
Take the sandwiched pieces of bread and dunk them into the egg/cream cheese mixture and let sit for just a few seconds on each side. Place each piece into the baking dish, standing them almost straight up (if using a 9x13 baking dish you will have to angle them more flat than standing up straight like in the pictures) until you have used all of the bread up. Top the french toast bake with 1 cup of the strawberries.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Take the foil off and bake for another 7-10 minutes or until the french toast bake is golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Top the french toast bake with a dusting of powdered sugar and the remaining fresh strawberries. Take out a large scoop of the french toast bake and place on a plate. Serve with pure maple syrup, whipped cream, and/or extra strawberries. Enjoy!