Though spring isn’t my favorite season of the year (for me, it’s all about fall…), the change from winter to spring is always one that I look forward to.
After months of heavy meals and rich flavors, it’s refreshing when the spring ingredients come around.
I get so tired of the constant onslaught of heavy meats, braised dishes, chocolate, cinnamon, and other warming spices by the time February hits. Eventually, you just want something bright and light to excite the senses and wake up those taste buds from their winter slumber.
Once I see the seasons change, it’s like a little miracle in the produce area of my local grocery store.
You think I am exaggerating with that statement, but I’m really not.
Everything seems brighter and more abundant. The price tags shine with savings as those items that have been expensive and out of season are finally in season, and available at affordable rates.
I like to start my days with something bright and refreshing when the seasons change, so this berry breakfast bake is a recipe that I always reach for. It has everything you could ever want to pick you up out of that winter slump.
This particular recipe reminds me of an overnight French toast bake, but without that extra hours that you’ll need to put in, waiting overnight to bake it.
The steps to make this dish are so simple and straightforward, you’ll be surprised by how little active time it takes out of your morning.
All you have to do is layer the bread cubes with fresh fruit and cubes of cream cheese, top it all with a seasoned egg mixture, and bake it up.
The result is a rich and creamy base, with pops of bright berries and hints of tart lemon throughout every mouthful.
For me, this dish is ideal for the weekend when everyone in the house is sleeping in. You can get up and have it in the oven in no time, then let everyone lazily rise to gather around the table when the smell of fruit wafts through the air.
I also highly recommend making this for any upcoming spring brunches you have planned, including Easter and Mother’s Day. It’s ideal for transporting in the pan – just cover it with aluminum foil until you reach your destination.
Remember: the powdered sugar and extra maple syrup are musts for serving!
Yes, I believe there should always be ample amounts of sugary things on the breakfast table. Wouldn’t you agree?
When everyone settles in to take their first bite, they’ll be moaning with pleasure. You’ll love seeing the little sparks of joy on everyone’s faces as they sink their teeth into a fresh berry, or a pop of cream cheese.
If you want to make this when fresh berries are not in season, check out my notes at the bottom of this article about using frozen berries. Hint: this is totally doable with your favorite berries all year long.Print
With the arrival of spring, it’s time to refresh our palates with the bright flavors found in this tart and sweet berry breakfast bake.
- Nonstick cooking oil spray
- 1 loaf French bread, cut into 1″ cubes (approx. 8 cups)
- 2 cups fresh berries
- 6 oz cream cheese, cut into small cubes
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup, plus more for serving
- Powdered sugar, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray an 8×8” baking pan with cooking oil spray.
- Place half of the bread in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle 1 cup berries on top. Distribute cream cheese evenly over the berries. Add remaining bread cubes on top.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, lemon zest, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread mixture. Sprinkle remaining berries over the top.
- Place pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips – this will puff up during cooking. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until set in the middle. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, with maple syrup drizzled over the top.
- Category: Casserole
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Breakfast
Keywords: breakfast casserole, French toast casserole, fresh berries, Easter, spring
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prep and Measure Ingredients
Cut a loaf of French bread into cubes. You should have about 8 cups of bread cubes total.
Combine your choice of berries in a small bowl, then divide in half. I used a combination of raspberries and blueberries, but you can also use a variety of others. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
- Blackberries and raspberries
- Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
- Blueberries and chopped strawberries
- Cranberries and blueberries
You can also use frozen berries if they are not in season. Be sure to thaw them and drain them well in a colander before using in the recipe.
Cut the cream cheese into small cubes.
Zest a whole medium lemon. You should have 2 tsp total. I like to use my microplane to make quick work of this.
Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter in a microwave safe bowl.
Measure out all of the remaining ingredients as listed.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. You can use metal, glass, or ceramic to bake in.
Step 2 – Layer Ingredients
Add half of the bread to the bottom of the pan and spread it out evenly.
Sprinkle 1 cup of berries on top.
Sprinkle the cubes of cream cheese evenly on top of that. Top with the remaining cubes of bread.
Step 3 – Make Base Liquid
Pour the beaten egg mixture over the bread in the pan, adding it slowly and evenly to cover the bread.
Sprinkle with the remaining berries.
Step 4 – Bake
Place the baking pan on top of a baking sheet. This will help to catch any drips that come up over the sides while the dish is baking.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. The middle should be set and the top should be golden brown.
Cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.
What Can I do When Berries Are Out of Season?
Sometimes you can’t wait for the seasons to change to get that fruit fix, and that’s okay.
If you are hoping to make this when your favorite berries are not in season, head to the freezer aisle.
Using frozen fruit for this recipe is perfectly fine, you just need to make sure that you thaw the berries before using them.
I also like to make sure that I drain the berries after removing them from the bag once they have thawed. The extra liquid will impact how the dish bakes. If you like, you can save it to throw into a smoothie.
If you need even more breakfast inspiration, here are some of our favorite fruity ways to start the day:
- Vegan Lemon Raspberry Muffins
- Healthy Cinnamon Blueberry Coffee Cake
- Apple Cinnamon Pancakes
- Strawberry Yogurt Parfait
And if you’re craving a savory start to your morning, leave out the baking pan and make our bacon, tomato, and cheddar breakfast bake!
What combination of berries will you use for this breakfast bake? Tell us in the comments below. Once you try this recipe at home, come back to rate it here to let other readers know how much you liked it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via A-cool. Originally published on December 1, 2010. Last updated: August 2, 2020 at 11:41 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.