I’m ready for the holidays to be over; like for real, for real. There are so many airs to put on throughout the holidays- even if it’s unintentional. “Pretend you like this gift, pretend you like that co-worker”…it’s just too much. I’m grateful for the celebration, don’t get me wrong. Time just needs to hustle along. One good thing about the holidays is the amount of amazing food I’ve been consuming. In my opinion, good food makes for happy times. This Holiday Leftovers Breakfast Casserole is something I came up with to avoid throwing away my favorite holiday leftovers: rolls and cranberry sauce.
Not Limited to Actual Holiday Leftovers
In spite of the fact this dish was inspired by my love of holiday leftovers, you aren’t limited to using them for your recreation. Pick up some bread from the bakery- challah, brioche, French, or Italian- and grab a good quality Cranberry Sauce. But, please, no gelatinous canned stuff. Please? You can even use a tart jam in its place.
Oranges, cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, eggs, and some stuff to make the glaze and we’re ready to go.
What Type of Bread Should I Use for this Holiday Leftovers Casserole?
The fantastic thing about this recipe is that it’s easy to compose. Even greater is the fact that you can prepare it the evening before and bake it in the morning! Grab a cutting board and a pound of bread. Use a serrated bread knife to cut the bread into one to one-and-a-half inch cubes. Because the bread is dried out, it will absorb more of the custard without falling apart to oblivion while it soaks. So, the staler the bread is, the better the Holiday Leftover Casserole will bake up. If you’ve just purchased freshly baked bread, just let it sit out on the counter unwrapped. Either that, or you can pop it into a warm oven and let it toast up a little.
On to the Custard
How do I prepare the holiday leftovers custard?
Pour the heavy cream and whole milk into the bowl with the mixed eggs and add the granulated sugar.
In a small prep bowl, mix together the ground cinnamon, cardamom and salt, then add this spice mixture to the custard. I mix these together prior to adding to the custard, because fine powders like these like to clump up when added in one dump.
Whisk, whisk, whisk to make sure all of those spices don’t clump together.
Use a rubber spatula to fold those cubes of bread into your custard. Makes sure the custard soaks into each cube of bread.
Can I make this Holiday Leftovers Casserole Ahead?
At this point you can either pour the bread and custard into a lightly-greased casserole dish, then cover it, and put it in the fridge overnight (up to eight hours) to bake it in the morning. Or, you can bake it straightaway. If you choose the overnight route, be sure to remove the casserole from the fridge prior to turning on the oven. You don’t want to put an ice-cold ceramic casserole dish into a blazing hot oven- more than likely, it’ll explode on you.
Whichever option you choose, the bread needs time to soak up that custard. Put the casserole into the fridge and let it sit for one hour. Just before baking, use a small portion scoop to scoop dollops of this Boozy Cranberry Sauce onto the top of the casserole. I like to nestle the cranberry sauce between the bread as I eject it from the scoop’s bowl. This way, while the casserole bakes, it bakes up and surrounds the mound of cranberry sauce.
Bake in a three hundred fifty degree oven for forty to fifty minutes, or until the casserole turns a golden brown and puffs in the center. You’ll know it’s done when a knife stuck into the center comes out squeaky clean.
How do I make the Orange Glaze?
Into a mixing bowl, measure out a cup of powdered sugar. I like to add the sugar to the bowl first, because it helps me control the consistency of the glaze.
Add a tablespoon of the orange juice to the sugar in the bowl. Whisk until it is smooth, adding more of the orange juice as needed to thin it out to your preferred consistency.
The addition of orange zest is optional, but I think it really does make the glaze taste bright and amazing- so unlike the doldrum days of the chaotic holidays. Add a tablespoon of the orange zest from earlier. If you don’t have quite a tablespoon, that’s fine, just a nice pinch of zest will work.
How long do I need to cool the Holiday Leftovers Casserole?
Once the casserole is fully baked, remove it from the oven and Let. It. Cool. Down!! Don’t be like me, friend. I swear, I gave my mouth third degree burns because my greedy butt couldn’t wait fifteen minutes to eat.
Use a small ladle to drizzle a generous amount of the Orange Glaze over the surface of the casserole. You can be reserved if you want to and serve the glaze on the side, but when I tried to do that everyone went back and doused the casserole in more Orange Glaze. It IS a great accompaniment, after all.
Can I Freeze this Holiday Casserole?
If you want to freeze this casserole, you can do so before or after baking.
To do it before, just assemble the casserole in a freezer-safe dish and wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap. Freeze the casserole for up to 3 months. Thaw the casserole in the fridge overnight. Bake as instructed above.
To freeze the baked casserole, first, allow it to cool completely. Wrap the dish in two layers of plastic wrap, then freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the casserole in the fridge overnight. Reheat the casserole in a 250°F for 30 minutes, or until warmed through.
How do I serve the holiday casserole?
Dole out servings as desired. I served this with a side of bacon, and that was breakfast.
My kiddos like to eat theirs with a side of yogurt and bacon. Fresh fruit, yogurt, or just a cup of joe is sufficient in my opinion.
This Holiday Leftovers Breakfast Casserole is a great way to shake things up during the hectic holiday season. Pin this recipe for when you come up for air and put those holiday leftovers to a tasty use.
Holiday Leftovers Breakfast Casserole
- 1 pound day-old challah bread (brioche, dinner rolls, or Hawaiian bread)
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (from 2 medium oranges), separated
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom optional
- pinch kosher salt
- 2 cups Boozy Spiced Cranberry Sauce (or other tart fruit preserves)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons orange juice freshly squeezed
Soak and Bake the Holiday Leftovers Casserole
- Lightly grease a 9"x13" casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 350°F if you are baking the casserole the same day.Use a serrated bread knife to cut the bread into 1-1 1/2" cubes.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1 tablespoon of the orange zest, milk, cream, granulated sugar, and the vanilla until smooth.
- In a separate smaller prep bowl, mix together the ground cinnamon, cardamom and salt, then add this spice mixture to the custard. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
- Fold the bread into the custard. Makes sure the custard soaks into each cube of bread. Place the uncovered dish in the refrigerator to allow the bread to soak for at least one hour prior to baking.
- Just before baking, scoop the Boozy Cranberry Sauce onto the top of the casserole, nestling the sauce in between the cubes of bread.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the casserole is golden brown and puffs in the center. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.
Make the Orange Glaze
- Add the powdered sugar to a mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon of the orange juice to the sugar. Whisk until the glaze is smooth, adding more of the orange juice as needed to thin it out to your preferred consistency.
- Stir in the remaining orange zest, if desired- anywhere from a teaspoon to all of the remaining zest.
- Once the casserole is fully baked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. Drizzle a generous amount of the Orange Glaze over the casserole, then serve.