Baked Lemon French Toast

6-10 slices day-old bread (challah, miche, white etc.)
6 large eggs lightly beaten
2 cups half & half (10%) cream
1 cup milk (whole (3%) milk, if possible)
1 Tbsp vanilla
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup brown sugar
To serve:
Fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries, for topping
Icing/confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Mint leaves for garnish
Maple syrup for drizzling

Grease your baking dish with butter. Lay your bread slices in the dish in a single layer, slightly over-lapping, but ensuring that the layer is as flat to the bottom of the pan as possible.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, milk, vanilla, lemon zest and brown sugar. *Note: You may not need to use all of the soaking liquid. A lot will depend on the thickness and type of bread you are using.

Pour mixture over bread slices only until the bread is almost all covered, with only the top edges of the bread slices exposed. Use a fork to gently move the slices so that the soaking liquid seeps between the slices, as well.

Allow to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes, pressing down with a fork and adding a bit more of the soaking liquid if necessary, once some has been absorbed by the bread before putting in the oven.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until set and lightly golden. *If necessary, loosely cover with aluminum foil for the last part of baking if top seems golden enough before the bake is set.

Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and scatter fresh fruit over top. Serve with maple syrup, for drizzling.

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