A fuss-free breakfast for the whole family is something I can get behind. Children love whisking the eggs and dunking the bread in the custard, so this is wonderful for them to prepare on Mother's Day. As it works best with slightly stale bread (which will absorb the custard better), get ahead by buying the bread midweek, then assemble on Saturday. Leave it to soak in the fridge overnight, ready for baking on Sunday morning.
50g butter, softened
6 large eggs
50g castor sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
¼ tsp salt
peel of 1 lemon, pared with a vegetable peeler
1 large loaf challah or unsliced white bread (about 500g)
30g flaked almonds
1.5 tbsp demerara sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
For the maple sauce
300g fresh or frozen blueberries
60ml maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
pinch of salt
plain yoghurt, to serve
1. Prepare an oven-proof dish (approximately 23cm x 32cm) by smearing the interior surface generously with half of the softened butter (the remaining half will be used later). Set the dish aside close by.
2. Place eggs in a large bowl and whisk well to break up. Add the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt, and continue to whisk until fully combined. Add the lemon peel and set aside for the time being.
3. Cut the challah (or white bread) into 2½-cm slices, then cut in half diagonally. Drop a few pieces at a time into the egg mixture and let soak for a couple of minutes, turning gently so that they are soaked on both sides.
4. One at a time, gently lift the bread and transfer to the buttered dish, laying the pieces down and overlapping slightly as you go. Repeat with the rest of the sliced bread, then spoon the remaining egg mixture evenly over the top of the soaked slices, tucking the lemon peel around the dish. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 170C fan-forced (190C conventional) and remove the dish from the fridge. Melt the remaining butter and drizzle over the top of the soaked bread.
6. Combine the flaked almonds, demerara sugar and cinnamon powder in a small bowl, then sprinkle and press lightly onto the pieces of bread. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the custard is set and the whole thing looks puffed and lightly golden.
7. While the French toast is baking, make the syrup by combining the blueberries, maple syrup, lemon juice and salt in a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the berries burst and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Decant into a small jug or bowl and serve with the French toast and yoghurt.