Prepped the night before and baked in the morning, Baked Brioche French Toast with cream cheese and fresh blueberries makes summer entertaining a breeze.
Have you ever made it to Friday only to realize you have nothing planned? I’m not talking about the refreshing sort of nothing, the intentional, relaxing sort of nothing. I’m talking crickets and boredom nothing.
I had one of those Fridays not long ago. Kyle was out with his brother. Julep and I had already walked, and she was pretty contentedly nestling into the night. I, however, felt like I was twiddling my thumbs, and I came to two important conclusions on that unintentional evening.
First, I realized spending time with Kyle can make eating pizza and watching movies feel more significant. That’s not to say spending time alone isn’t valuable or can’t be fulfilling (I love and require a fair bit of alone time). Simply, I had a moment of gratitude for the everyday activities to which he adds humor, companionship, a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. I read recently how we miss those mundane moments the most when grieving the loss of someone close to us, so I lean into a feeling of gratitude in that moment.
Secondly, I need to plan my weekends. I recently listened to the audio books, What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and What The Most Successful People Do On Weekends. What I and many others found to be surprising is this short answer: they plan!
Author Laura Vanderkam advises readers/listeners to plan their weekends. It seems antithetical. Isn’t the point to relax? Sure, but that’s part of the plan. She suggests we use the weekend to recharge by planning chunks of time for activities that fuel us, that nourish us and mix in periods of restful activities like reading a book, napping, a quiet walk, etc.
With the listlessness of my recent Friday fresh on the brain, her words gave me just the prodding I needed. I’ve begun to look at weekends with more purpose and intention. I view weekends as time I need to cherish in a different way than weekdays, and in that spirit, I sent a text to two of my favorite people, “Brunch on Sunday?”
So, we gathered. We made mimosas in the sunshine. We drizzled maple syrup over brioche french toast with nectarines, blueberries, cream cheese and thyme – like a danish and french toast rolled into one. We continued into the dining room, where we conversed over an impromptu cheese board and wines we bought on a recent trip to Lake Chautauqua. We really relished a weekend of connecting where it counts and disconnecting from what doesn’t, and it all started with a plan.
Baked Brioche French Toast with Nectarines, Blueberries & Thyme
Butter for greasing pan
1 loaf stale, brioche bread or buns, cut into chunks
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries
5 large, local eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (try homemade)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cardamom
1-2 nectarines, sliced thin
1-2 Tablespoons Honey
Maple syrup or honey
Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish (I like to use glass).
Arrange an even layer of brioche chunks on the bottom of the pan.
Dollop cream cheese over the chunks of bread. Top with blueberries and another layer of bread chunks, making sure to fill in any gaps with bread.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup, fresh thyme, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 30-40 minutes, but preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Uncover the baking pan. Arrange the nectarine slices over the surface and drizzle with honey.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, covering with foil if the surface starts to brown too quickly.
Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh thyme leaves. Serve warm with pure maple syrup or more honey.