Thanks to Stoneridge Orchards for sponsoring this overnight breakfast bake recipe. All opinions remain my own.
The day is almost here. My eldest will be starting kindergarten in a few short weeks. I think both he and I are equally nervous and excited at the same time. One thing is for sure, I want to try to prepare for the changes in our schedule to help the transition be a bit smoother. While we were up and out at a similar time as we will need to before, the summer break has got us a little more laid back. Plus, we’ve got lunches to organize now too. As a result, I’ve been thinking of ways to get a bit ahead and ideas like this overnight breakfast bake are perfect.
I don’t know about you, but I am definitely one that needs my coffee to get going in the morning. So it helps to have things prepared ahead of time, as far as I can, or at least easy to make. The kids don’t always cooperate with their tastes, however. I’ve tried them on mango strawberry overnight oats and other variations, but it’s not a habit that has stuck. They have, however, come to like French toast now and then over the summer, so I’m working on another tact.
This overnight breakfast bake is inspired by the breakfast strata I made last year that we loved. Both are basically a savory French toast that you put together the night before, leave to soak overnight then bake up in the morning. This version takes a slightly different spin on flavors using pancetta and some delicious dried Montmorency cherries from Stoneridge Orchards. The combination of salty and sweet-tart flavors go so well with the soft, cheese-topped bread.
I first came across Stoneridge Orchards at a conference last year and immediately loved their delicious dried cherries. Then I learned more about them and was impressed by the fact they are a company of third generation family farmers who have a passion for growing and drying fruit. They start with high quality berries and don’t use any weird ingredients in the drying process to create a delicious, healthy snack you can enjoy year-round. In fact, both of my boys have been enjoying their cherries and Berry Mix recently and I can see many of their berries will be great in lunchboxes, as well as baked into breakfast as I have here.
How it’s made
This bake is also really easy to prepare, as all you do is gently crisp up the pancetta while you dice the bread. Add the roughly chopped arugula to the pancetta and wilt it down a minute. Whisk together the eggs and milk, grate the cheese then start layering up. Then leave it overnight to soak before baking in the morning.
The bread become soft in the middle with a slight crisp on the outside. There are such delicious bursts of flavor from the cherries, pancetta and parmesan and they all work so well together. This overnight breakfast bake is such a delicious combination, and perfect for a busy morning or a fancier brunch. I know we’ll be looking forward to enjoying it more in the coming months.
Overnight breakfast bake
- 4 oz bread 115g, eg Italian/French, crusts removed, gives 2 cups of cubes
- 4 oz pancetta 115g, can use ready-diced
- 2 oz arugula 62g, 2 packed cups
- 2 oz dried montmorency cherries 62g, 1/2 cup - recommend Stoneridge Orchard
- 3 oz parmesan cheese 90g, 3/4 cup coarsely grated
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup milk 180ml
The night before
- Dice the bread into bite-sized pieces Lightly oil a medium oven dish and spread half the bread over the bottom (it should be roughly half full, if anything a little less).
- Saute the pancetta in a small skillet/frying pan for a couple minutes so that it releases some fat and just starts to crisp. Add the arugula and stir so that it wilts down then remove from the heat.
- Put half of the pancetta-arugula mixture over the bread in the dish, then top with half of the cherries, so all covers evenly.
- Grate the cheese and put roughly half on top of the dish. Top with the remaining chunks of bread followed by the rest of the pancetta-arugula mix, cherries and cheese.
- Beat the eggs and milk in a bowl or jug and carefully pour over the bake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning
- Preheat oven to 350F/190C. Remove the bake from the fridge to come to room temperature while the oven is coming to temperature.
- Bake for approx 45min until lightly browned on the top and set inside. While it's best enjoyed at the time, you can eat leftover cold or gently reheated.