The Cooking Method That Makes French Toast For A Crowd Easy

They say it's the most important meal of the day, and whether you prefer sweet or savory, an early start or a leisurely wander-into-the-kitchen pace, a loaded plate or a dainty bowl, we think we can all agree: Breakfast offers a plethora of delights for the food lovers among us. Chilaquiles, those spicy, salsa-bathed tortilla chips loaded high with toppings? Check. Fluffy zucchini banana bread muffins perfect for slathering with butter? Check. Sweet cannoli pancakes inspired by the classic Italian pastry? Why not?

We all have our personal favorites when it comes to breakfast, but one dish almost universal in its appeal is French toast, that classic treat of thick slices of bread soaked in an eggy batter and griddled in butter until moist on the inside and nicely browned on the outside. The perfect base for a veritable pool of maple syrup, French toast is beloved the world over, with Spain's take called torrijas (via Visit Southern Spain) and France's version, ironically enough, called pain perdu (via Pardon Your French).

While not very labor-intensive, cooking up French toast typically requires some time standing in front of a hot griddle — not exactly what you want to be doing if you have guests over for breakfast or brunch. Luckily, there's an easy trick to making French toast for a crowd, with very little hands-on time required.

Oven French toast feeds a crowd, easy-peasy

Making French toast is easy enough, but it's that step of standing over a hot griddle flipping slices of sodden bread that takes the most time. And it's a step that might not be all that appealing if you've invited folks over and would prefer to be socializing with them. That's where oven-baked French toast comes in, according to hostessing doyenne Martha Stewart. As she explains in a YouTube clip, "French toast can be a little challenging to make if you're serving more than a few people" — and her solution for that is to briefly dip slices of bread in custard, lay them out on rimmed baking sheets, and bake them in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes instead.

Instagram sensation Daphne Oz has a similar take on oven French toast that's even more hands-off, calling for soaking slices of brioche in a cream-based custard overnight so that in the morning, all you have to do is pop the baking pan in a 400-degree oven for about 25 minutes. Oz's trick is that at the end, she broils the slices of French toast for a couple of minutes to create a caramelized "crème brûlée” coating on top — a method that sounds good whether we're feeding a crowd or baking up a pan all to ourselves.