Pain Trouve au Four (Baked French Toast)
1 loaf day-old brioche, sliced 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick
1/2 c. plus 2 TB. sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 6 ramekins with vegetable oil spray. Using a round cookie cutter (I used a glass) the same diameter as your ramekins, cut out 18 rounds of brioche. Place 3 rounds of brioche into each ramekin. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sugar and the eggs. Whisk in the milk, cream, and vanilla extract until well combined. Pour 1/2 cup of this mixture into each ramekin, making sure the brioche is completely soaked. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of sugar over each ramekin.
Arrange the ramekins on a sturdy baking sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until no liquid rises to the surface when the brioche is gently pressed in the center (they will rise, almost souffle-like before falling out of the oven). Let cool in the ramekins, then remove from the ramekins by running a knife around their perimeters and turning the French toasts out of pan. Served browned-side up, with warmed pure maple syrup or jam.
* Note: You can also use good quality challah in lieu of brioche (I did this--can't find plain brioche in SLC). Also, if you want to make this in advance, don't soak it overnight (soak it for about 4 hours or so). Then bake it completely and just reheat in the microwave in the morning.