French toast casseroles are perfect for a Dutch oven breakfast in camp. They go together pretty easily. You don’t have to stand at the griddle flipping French toast and everyone gets to sit down together and share the morning meal—together. That’s what camping is all about—spending time, unplugged, together and reconnecting with nature and with each other.
To round out your breakfast, you could serve this casserole with bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, fruit, and, of course, some maple syrup. If you really wanted to get wild and crazy, you could include an apple syrup and/or a caramel syrup.
At home, this makes a great, easy family breakfast that you can prep the night before, store in the refrigerator, and bake in the morning. It’s perfect for a holiday morning meal or brunch. You could even take it somewhere and bake it there.
When I make this, I use French bread but you could also use sourdough if you’re looking for a bit of tang. I use golden delicious apples but you could choose sweeter apples or granny smiths for their tartness. For the egg mixture, I use whole milk because it makes it more like custard. I mean, come on, this is meant to be yummy, rich, comfort food.
So, here’s how we prep and make when camping.
12-inch Dutch oven (use a 9×13 casserole dish at home), large mixing bowl, whisk, measuring cups and spoons
1-pound loaf sourdough or French bread, cut into chunks
3 cups apples, peeled and chopped (2-4 large apples)
8 large eggs
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar, unpacked
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup salted butter, cut into pieces
Prep at Home Before You Go
Cut the bread into cubes and load into a large resealable freezer bag (minimum 2 gallon).
Peel and dice the apple and load into a smaller resealable freezer bag (2 quart oughta do). If you suck all the air out of the bag before sealing, the apples won’t oxidize as much.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour into a bottle or container that you can tightly seal.
In a 1-gallon resealable freezer bag, combine all the streusel ingredients except for the butter.
When packing for camp, the bread and the streusel topping mix go into the food tote. The apples, custard mixture, and butter go into a cooler.
Assemble and Bake in Camp
First thing when you get up (yes, even before you make coffee), prep the casserole mixture. For easy clean up, line your Dutch oven with foil. Grease the foil. Add the cubed bread and diced apples, toss together, and then arrange in an even layer. Evenly pour the custard mixture over the bread and apples. Pop the lid on and just let it sit for 20-30 minutes, which will allow the bread to absorb all the custard mixture.
Now, you can make coffee, start a campfire, and prep other breakfast items. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, start your coals. You’ll need 25 coals. When the coals are ready, move the Dutch oven to the baking area, and place 8 coals underneath and 17 coals on top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.
While the casserole bakes, cube up the butter and add it to the dry ingredients for the streusel. Seal the bag and mash the butter into the dry ingredients until it forms a crumbly mixture. When the timer for the casserole goes off, lift the lid and quickly sprinkle the crumbled streusel over the top and put the lid back on. It helps if you have a buddy to either manage the lid or the streusel. Bake another 5 minutes or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.
Prep for Making and Baking at Home
Prep the bread and the apples and arrange in an even layer in a greased 9×13 casserole dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining casserole ingredients and pour evenly over the bread and apples. Cover the casserole and store in the fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the casserole for about 35-40 minutes.
While the casserole bakes, in a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the streusel. Cube the butter and mash into the dry mixture until it forms a crumbly mixture.
Remove the casserole from the oven and crumble the streusel over the top. Continue baking for about 5 minutes, or until the streusel is melted over the top. Serve the casserole warm with syrup.
Serves about 12.
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