Banana Brown Sugar Caramel Strata

Layers of fluffy French toast cubes, warm gooey bananas, covered in brown sugar caramel sauce, topped with a brown sugar crumble, and drizzled with maple syrup. Do I have your attention?

This strata is breakfast comfort food and, while it is a bit challenging to make (i.e., multiple steps), it’s so worth it. It’s great for camp in a Dutch oven or at home in a casserole dish for a holiday or weekend breakfast or brunch. We’ve made this a couple times at home and in camp and, each time, it’s received rave reviews.

A strata is a great way to make French toast for a crowd without having to stand at the griddle flipping slices of bread. It can be sweet or savory. This one is most certainly sweet. With a few substitutions, this could also be dairy and/or gluten-free.

A strata is also perfect for making in camp in a Dutch oven. A lot of this can be prepped at home so, in camp, it’s just some assembly required. Just allow enough time in the morning to assemble and let it rest while the bread soaks up the egg mixture before baking. About 20 minutes of rest ought to do it. If you want that occasional big hit of banana, slice your bananas thicker. I prefer to dice my bananas so there is a little bit of banana in every bite. Either way is yummy. It’s just personal preference.

If you’re making at home, this French toast casserole can be assembled the night before, placed in the refrigerator overnight, and baked in the morning. In the morning, all you have to do is add the topping and bake. Again, great for a holiday or weekend brunch.

Equipment
12-inch Dutch oven or casserole dish, medium sauce pan or skillet, large bowl, whisk, cutting board, knife, small bowl, measuring cups and spoons.

Ingredients for Brown Sugar Banana Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ripe-firm bananas peeled, sliced and quartered

Ingredients for French toast
8 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 15-ounce loaf French bread cut into large cubes (preferably a day or two old)

Ingredients for Topping
1/3 cup light brown sugar packed
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Ingredients for Serving (Mix & Match)
Maple syrup, caramel sauce, sliced bananas, chopped nuts, and whipped cream.

Prep Brown Sugar Banana Filling
At home or in camp, in a medium skillet or sauce pan on medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and carefully stir in the bananas. Set aside and cool to room temperature while you prepare the French toast. If prepping at home, load the sauce into a container and add the bananas in camp so they are fresh.

Prep FrenchToast
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, half and half, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. This can be poured into a bottle that has a tight seal for the ride to camp in the cooler.

Prep Topping
In a small sealable container or resealable bag, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add butter and, using a spoon or your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture resembles wet, clumpy sand. Seal and refrigerate (cooler) until you are ready to bake the French toast.

Assembly if Making at Home
Grease a 2 1/2 or 3 quart casserole dish. Place half the bread cubes in the bottom. Spoon half of the banana-brown sugar mixture over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Pour the custard (egg mixture) evenly over the bread cubes. Lightly press down on the top of the bread to allow the top layer of bread to absorb some of the custard mixture. Spoon the remaining banana-brown sugar mixture over the top of the French toast. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until bread has soaked up all liquid.

Assembly if Making in Camp
Line a 12-inch Dutch oven with foil and grease with butter or non-sticking cooking spray. Place half the bread cubes in the bottom. Spoon half of the banana-brown sugar mixture over the bread. Top with the remaining bread cubes. Pour the custard (egg mixture) evenly over the bread cubes. Lightly press down on the top of the bread to allow the top layer of bread to absorb some of the custard mixture. Spoon the remaining banana-brown sugar mixture over the top of the French toast. Cover and rest 20-30 minutes or until bread has soaked up all liquid.

Baking
When you’re ready to bake, crumble the topping over the French toast.

Bake in a 350°F oven, using 17 coals on the lid and 8 underneath, for 40-55 minutes until puffy and golden brown, and set (check that the center is not too wet). Baking time will depend on how deep your casserole dish is and whether you prefer your French toast more well done. Refresh coals as needed.

Serve immediately with syrup, caramel sauce, whipped cream and/or chopped nuts.

Serves 6-10

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Categories: Breakfasts, Dutch Oven, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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