Baked Pandoro French Toast

Post image for Baked Pandoro French Toast
It’s not often I have leftover Pandoro. Everyone in my family loves it so it doesn’t last long. I still have a clear image in my mind of my son at age 1, toddling around in a blue and white striped one-piece thingie with a sailboat on it, clutching a giant piece of Pandoro in his fist. Fifteen years later, his sartorial taste has changed but his devotion to this sweet, airy cake remains strong.

I buy at least one, usually two Pandoro cakes for the holidays and between the four of us and extended family we polish them off for breakfast within a few days. Pandoro has gotten to be expensive in recent years otherwise I’d buy more. In fact, I’ve found that the best time to buy it is after the holidays, when demand for it drops and it suddenly becomes almost affordable.

In past years I’ve used extra Pandoro to make a fancy New Year’s trifle. This year I went casual and made baked French toast for a brunch with friends. It was, quite possibly, the best French toast I’ve ever made. The cake’s light and tender crumb turned out to be just right for absorbing the custard. But it was the Pandoro’s distinct flavor ~ sweet, buttery and yeasty with a hint of citrus ~ that really made the difference. The generous splash of Punch Abruzzo didn’t hurt either.

You should still be able to find Pandoro in well-stocked supermarkets, Italian delis and gourmet food shops through January. Pick one up while they’re still available (and affordable) and treat yourself to brunch.

 

french toast collage

(Clockwise from top left: custard-soaked Pandoro slices before baking; detail of baked French toast; the corner of the pan. Top right and bottom photos taken by Michelle Andonian)

Baked Pandoro French ToastClockwise from top left: custard-soaked Pandoro slices before baking; detail of baked French toast; the corner of the pan. Top right and bottom photos taken by Michelle Andonian

(copyright 2013 Domenica Marchetti)

Pandoro's light and airy texture makes it perfect for baked French toast. Plus it's squishy so you can easily arrange the slices in the pan, filling odd spaces and corners. Assemble the French toast on the night before you plan to serve it; cover and refrigerate. Let it sit out for a bit the next morning to take the chill off before baking.

Ingredients

  • Butter for coating a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish
  • 3 cups whole milk or 2 cups low-fat milk and 1 cup half-and-half
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Splash of Punch Abruzzo, Grand Marnier or dark rum
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 Pandoro cake, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices (you will need to further cut or break apart the slices to fit into the pan and there will be some leftover cake)
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Instructions

Generously coat the interior of an oven-proof 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish or lasagne pan (I use a ceramic baking dish).

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and liqueur. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Arrange the slices of Pandoro in the baking dish in two layers. You can tear or cut the slices to make them fit snugly in the pan (see top left image in photo collage above). Slowly pour the egg mixture over the Pandoro slices, taking care to moisten them all. Gently press down on the top layer (not too hard; you don't want to deflate it) to make sure the slices are coated with the mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow it to sit out while the oven preheats. Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle a little granulated sugar over the top of the French toast. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the top is puffed and browned and the custard is set. (Note: If you find the top is browned before the baking time is up, loosely cover with foil and finish baking.)

Remove from the oven and let sit 5 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

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20 Responses to Baked Pandoro French Toast

  1. elisa January 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

    Che delizia!!!! I have to try this recipe! You still can find Pandoro here:

    http://www.capriflavors.com/index.php?main_page=advanced_search_result&search_in_description=1&keyword=pandoro

    just scroll down on their page.

    • Domenica January 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

      Grazie Elisa. You always provide useful tips! Yes, this recipe is definitely a keeper. Cheers,
      D

  2. Laura (Tutti Dolci) January 14, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    Your French toast sounds wonderfully rich and delicious!

    • Domenica January 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      I won’t lie Laura ~ it was both. Thank you for reading,
      D

  3. Leah January 14, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    Hello Domenica! Happy New Year! I was wondering whether Pandoro is the same as panettone please? I suppose they could be interchangeable in this recipe? Thank you.

    • Domenica January 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm #

      Happy New Year to you Leah!
      Pandoro is different than Panettone. Pandoro it taller and star-shaped, while Panettone is dome-topped. Pandoro is lighter and airier in texture, and it is not usually studded with candied fruit or raisins, though there are more and more variations of both types of bread. If you click on the word ‘trifle’ in the post above it will take you to a post I wrote a couple of Christmases ago about Pandoro that gives a little more detail.

      Cheers,
      D

  4. Betty Ann @Mango_Queen January 14, 2013 at 9:25 am #

    What a great idea for french toast! I’m always on the lookout for a good brunch item and this pandoro french toast is perfect ~ you can even prep it the night before ! Thanks for sharing, Domenica!

    • Domenica January 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm #

      Thanks for your sweet comment Betty Ann. :)

  5. AdriBarr January 14, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    I love French toast – and this sounds wonderful. I especially like the part about the Punch Abruzzo… thanks for this one, amica!

  6. elisa January 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    …and you can make truffles with Pandoro.
    Il pandoro sbriciolato viene impastato con panna fresca e scorza grattugiata di un’arancia, poi modellato in piccole palline che vengono tuffate nel cacao in polvere e ricoperte con ganache al cioccolato fondente e mandorle o nocciole tritate.
    I tartufi di pandoro al cioccolato sono deliziosi!!!

    • Domenica January 15, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

      Idea stupenda, Elisa! Faccio la traduzione:

      Elisa informs me that you can also make truffles with Pandoro: Mix crumbled Pandoro with fresh cream and grated orange zest. Roll into small balls, then roll them in cocoa powder. Dip in chocolate ganache and finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts.

      This is something I am most definitely going to try.

      Grazie Elisa!

  7. Jamie January 15, 2013 at 11:25 am #

    Mmm we always preferred Pandoro to Panettone and this looks so good I would buy one simply to make this. What a treat! I haven’t made French toast in years and now I have to try your recipe. For dinner?

    • Domenica January 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      My kids love French toast Jamie. We usually make it with challah or brioche loaf. But this was beyond. I suppose you could make it for dinner ~ why not??

  8. Tracy January 15, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    The confectioners sugar is killing me. I’m well overdue for french toast.

    • Domenica January 15, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

      Yes to the power of powdered sugar ~ or ‘sugar snow’ as my kids called it when they were little. You almost don’t need syrup.

  9. Frank @Memorie di Angelina January 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Sounds lovely. I suppose you could also use leftover panettone? Not that I ever have any leftovers, but this sounds good enough to make on purpose….

    • Domenica January 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

      Yes, panettone would be great too, Frank. We don’t often have leftovers either. This year I bought a Loison panettone that had crema di marroni inside. Out. Of. This. World. Needless to say, that did not stick around long enough to be turned into french toast.

  10. ciaochowlinda January 23, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    Forget leftover pandoro. It’s worth going out and buying a pandoro just to have this wonderful dish.

    • Domenica January 23, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

      Thank you Linda bella Linda. Did I tell you how much I’m looking forward to this weekend. Can’t wait to meet you! xo

  11. stacey snacks January 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    After that huge delicious meal last night, can I still make this for brunch today?
    I think I will!

    It was so nice meeting you last night………….I am making one of your brodos for Sunday dinner from your Soups and Stews book.

    Stacey

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