2tablespoonspure maple syrup, can sub corn syrup or pancake syrup
61-inch thick slices French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (see picture in the post)
Sweetened whipped cream + fresh strawberries/raspberries, for serving
Add butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup to a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1-2 minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Stir to combine. (This step can be done in a pan on the stove.)
Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan with cooking spray.
Spread the brown sugar mixture in the bottom of the pan and arrange the bread cubes in a single layer over the top.
In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, and salt.
Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.
Cover the pan and refrigerate overnight (8-10 hours).
Remove the pan from the refrigerator, uncover, and place in the cold oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the oven reaches temperature, bake for 30-35 minutes, until the bread is golden and the caramelly syrup is bubbling (alternately, if you want the golden syrupy goodness on top, the french toast can be baked for 20 minutes, then using a large, flat spatula, flip the bread pieces and bake for another 10-15 minutes).
Serve immediately with sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries or strawberries.
Texture:I like my French toast on the firmer (read: less soggy) end of things (although it's still plenty soft and delicious as written). However, if you like a softer/milkier/soggier French toast OR your bread is thicker than 1-inch slices, increase the half-and-half to 1 1/2 cups and use 5 eggs instead of 4.Bread: also, if you are using an artisan-style bread with heavy, thick crusts, consider cutting the crusts off the bread (no need to do that if the French bread you use is soft with a thinner crust).