Salted Caramel and Banana Breakfast Strata
Part dessert, part breakfast, this entirely enjoyable one-pan strata (the Italian version of bread pudding) is a lovely way to feed a crowd for a special occasion. If you’re short on time, you can use purchased caramel sauce. Just be sure so add the salt to taste.
Make-ahead notes: Assemble the strata through step 3 up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate; bake an additional 10 minutes. Or, make it through step 4, wrap well, and freeze up to 1 month. Cover with foil and bake while frozen until hot in the center, about 1 1/2 hours.
For more outside-the-box breakfast bakes, check out our Breakfast Toad in the Hole, Cheesy Sausage Breakfast Casserole, and Smoked Salmon and Bagel Breakfast Casserole.
- 1 loaf (about 1 pound) brioche or challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- Pinch cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), cut into pieces, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 5 large eggs
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick
- Sea salt, for sprinkling
1Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and lightly golden, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.
2Warm 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and set aside. Combine 1 cup of the sugar, the cream of tartar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Using your wet hand, wash down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan. Cook over medium heat, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until the sugar melts and turns amber, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter, the warmed heavy cream, and 3/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, being careful of any splattering. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
3Whisk the eggs, the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt in a large bowl, then whisk in the milk, the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in the toasted bread and the banana slices. Transfer half of the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the caramel and top with the remaining bread mixture.
4Bake until the strata is golden brown, the bread springs back when gently poked with a finger, and no liquid oozes into the center, about 1 hour. Just before serving, drizzle with the rewarmed caramel and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.
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