Long ago I developed my go-to savory strata. Over the years I’ve attempted sweet ones, but they were never quite as winning the savory strata. No more. Finally I’ve developed French Toast Strata with Strawberry Sauce that rivals its savory cousin.
Sweet stratas are notoriously rich. One of my goals in developing this strata was nudging it from naughty to nice. In fact I was able to cut back on the butter, sugar, and rich dairy and still deliver strata worthy of a celebration.
Most sweet strata recipes call for one to two sticks of butter (and that’s before you add in the sugar and cream). This recipe calls for just six tablespoons, and I feature it in the crumble topping. Instead of the usual half-and-half/ heavy cream-based custard, I use equally rich but less caloric evaporated milk
Many recipes call for sugar in both the custard and the topping. I’ve found that if the sugar sits on the surface it’s more prominent and you need less, so I limited the sugar to the crumble topping, and it tastes plenty sweet. Instead of dousing the strata with straight syrup, I serve up lightly sweetened fresh strawberry sauce.
Add in a ham–I just bought mine yesterday–and mixed green salad, you’ve got an Easter meal that everyone–kids included–will love.
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted but not hot
- 1 loaf (about 1 pound) crusty French bread
- 2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
- 9 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 cups sliced strawberries
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
- Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, almonds, and butter with hands in a medium bowl, pressing together to form large clumps; set aside.
- Arrange bread in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish so that they slightly overlap. Whisk together milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour mixture over bread and let stand, weighting the bread so that it absorbs the custard, at least 20 minutes or overnight.
- When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle casserole with crumble topping. Bake until golden and set, about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring berries, sugar, zest, and ½ cup water to boil in a small Dutch oven or large saucepan. When mixture starts to simmer, whisk in cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer until mixture thickens to sauce consistency.
- Cut casserole into portions and serve with sauce alongside.