Visions of Sugar Plums [Maple Sugar Plum Baked French Toast]

SONY DSCOne of the things that defined the Christmas season for me (and perhaps our entire household) almost all through elementary and high school, was our annual performance of The Nutcracker. My twin and I went to the same ballet school and every year around Thanksgiving, parts would be assigned to excited little dancers, rehearsals for the ballet would start, and Tchaikovsky’s beautiful score would start playing through our house. Honestly, I don’t think I could ever get sick of that music, but I could see why our two younger brothers and parents would groan when “Nutcracker season” started for T and I.

The show really became a family affair — my parents shuttled us to and from rehearsals, my mum helped us behind the scenes, and my dad even got on stage for a few years as one of the “guest fathers” during the opening scene. I wasn’t a particularly impressive ballerina –T was a much better dancer (he’s danced professionally, so ooobviously he’s the better dancer in this twin duo) and had prominent solo parts; I was happy enough to get my bits on stage and be part of the show. Although one year, when they couldn’t find a man to play the comedic role of “Mother Ginger” as they usually did, guess who ended up as the lady who was supposed to be in drag? This is what happens to tall, not very serious ballerinas…it’s a good thing I can laugh at myself.
It’s been several years since our Nutcracker days, but after going through countless rehearsals and performances, I’d bet that both T and I could remember the steps from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.SONY DSC

These aren’t sugared plums in the traditional sense; they’re coated in maple syrup and tossed in brown sugar, so I think they earn the name (plus it’s oh-so-festive!). The recipe is adapted from this Classic Baked French Toast that was part of our Mother’s Day brunch back in May. Any type of baked French toast seems like a pretty lovely idea for an easy holiday morning treat; throw it together the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. I hope you enjoy it and merry Christmas eve!

Classic Baked French Toast from Mother's Day
Classic Baked French Toast from Mother’s Day

Maple Sugar Plum Baked French Toast
Serves 10

I cubed a loaf of bread for this, but you could also just layer slices of bread in your baking pan, I’ve done it both ways and it’s always tasty.

2 tbsp butter
Approx. 4 cups cubed bread (any kind, I like crusty breads or challah for this, but even your regular sandwich bread will work!)
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

For the sugar plums:
6 plums, thinly sliced
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup

Butter a shallow baking pan (the size doesn’t really matter — you just want to fit all your bread in there!).
Toss sliced plums in the brown sugar and maple syrup til fully covered.
In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, add the milk, syrup, cinnamon, sugar and salt.  Put the bread in the baking pan and spread the plums evenly throughout.  Pour the egg mixture over the whole thing. Cover and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Bake at 350F for approximately 20 minutes until the top is slightly golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Be merry and enjoy!!

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