by Laura Weisskopf Bleill
So last week in my column about not eating, I teased that this week I was going to feature the challah french toast casserole dish that I usually make for break the fast. But first, let’s explain Break the Fast — it is a communal dinner that customarily follows the end of Yom Kippur.
Most healthy adult Jews will fast on Yom Kippur, (that might be how they observe the holiday); kids, the infirm and elderly among others are exempt. So the break the fast dinner is just how it sounds – it’s a dinner where everyone breaks their fasts — or goes to hang out even if they didn’t fast.
Since we are breaking the fast, it is a custom to have breakfast-type fare. That often means bagels, lox and cream cheese; sometimes it is more of a brunch-style menu, although there’s no one way to do a break the fast meal.
Several years ago I was at a break the fast where someone had brought a french toast casserole. I made it my mission to find a recipe for this yummy brunch dish. I found the original recipe for the following dish on allrecipes.com, but I have tweaked it somewhat. This is a great dish for when you’re having company over for brunch or even if you have to feed a lot of kids sleeping over – make it the night before and put it in the oven to bake the next morning.
Challah French Toast Casserole
1 large challah (I get mine from Great Harvest in Champaign)
3 medium/large apples (I used honeycrisp from Curtis Orchard)
1/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups milk (skim or 2 percent)
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Optional sauce (you don’t need this, but it makes it extra sweet and gooey)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 t vanilla extract
1. Cut the bread into 1 inch slices and layer in a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking pan. In a large bowl, beat egss with 1 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 T vanilla. Pour mixture over bread slices.
2. Peel, core and slice the apples. Arrange the apple slices on top of the bread. Combine the cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle over the apple slices. Cover with foil. Refrigerate if not putting in the oven right away.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake toast covered for 1 hour 20 minutes. Meanwhile, if you want to do the optional caramel sauce , combine all the ingredients into a small saucepan and heat until thick. Serve casserole hot with warm sauce (if desired).
Laura Weisskopf Bleill, a co-founder of chambanamoms.com, is feeling guilty for not writing about this week’s Sukkot holiday. She writes “Being a Jew in C-U,” a column about being a Jewish suburban girl in a cornfield, on Thursdays. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.