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For a Tuesday treat or upcoming brunch, make this Baked Cinnamon Crunch French Toast. Made with a vanilla egg custard, each piece is stuffed with whipped cream cheese and finished with a cinnamon crunch topping. It’s that cinni “crunch” topping, that gets everyone, it really is delicious. Every piece of toast is soft, buttery, and custardy inside, yet caramelized around the edges…almost like a creme brûlée. Enjoy warm with just a little butter. Beyond delicious!

overhead photo of french toast in skillet with cream and flowers

I haven’t been that into baking lately. Ever since Christmas I’ve been baking a lot less. Which I guess makes sense since we did so much baking in December.

What I have been into, is baking more wholesome sweets. And while it’s a little tricky at times, I love the challenge it brings. It’s something new and fun for me!

All that said, we had lots of snow this past weekend. So just like that, I was left wanting to bake up something sweet for a nice breakfast/brunch. Cozy snow days are always best for baking.

And while I know Easter may not be until late in April, there’s nothing wrong with being prepared and planning ahead!

whipped cream cheese in mixing bowl

The idea

I’ve said this many times before, but I grew up eating the Panera bread cinnamon crunch bagels. They were always my favorite with a little butter smear on top. So freaking good, right?

I’ve created a few recipes with the cinnamon crunch topping in previous years, but never a french toast. So when the idea came to me, I knew it would be good. A custardy french toast with that delicious cinni-crunch topping might even be better than the bagels.

I had to make it.

cream cheese stuffed in the bread before cooking

The details

Start with the cream cheese. First, I should mention that if you’d prefer, you can skip the cream cheese altogether. But I do think it makes this french toast really delicious, so personally, I wouldn’t.

You’ll want to whip the cream cheese with some whipping cream until it’s light and airy. Then take your thick pieces of challah (or brioche) bread and use a knife to make a small pocket in the middle of each piece. Stick the cream cheese into the pockets.

prep photo of the bread in the egg custard batter

From here, everything is pretty straightforward. The custard is a simple mix of eggs, milk, and vanilla. Dip each piece of bread into the custard, then arrange in the baking dish. Sprinkle over some cinnamon sugar.

Once the french toast has been assembled, place it in the fridge for thirty minutes, or up to overnight. This is great if you want to have breakfast all prepped and ready for baking in the morning!

french toast in baking dish with piece missing

Before baking, make the cinnamon crunch topping. It’s just brown sugar, mixed with cinnamon, flour, and butter. It clumps up as it’s mixed, so you can easily sprinkle it over the french toast before baking.

As the french toast bakes, the custard sets, the cream cheese becomes warm and even creamier, and the topping begins to caramelize becoming crunchy.

french toast on plate

Everything together is delicious, so DELICIOUS you guys!

This is by far the sweetest treat I’ve baked up since the holidays, but wow, it’s good. And it’s really great for special mornings and holidays.

french toast on plate close up showing cream cheese in the middle

Obviously serve the french toast warm. It doesn’t need any toppings, but a little sliver of butter is always welcome. And if you have extra whipped cream cheese (you should), add a dollop of that. YUM.

But be sure to keep this recipe in mind to liven up your weekends ahead. Especially Easter weekend, this will be perfect!

french toast on plate

Looking for other easy breakfast dishes?? Here are my favorites: 

Cinnamon Knots with Coffee Icing

Easiest Cinnamon Crunch Knots

Berry and Cream Cheese Croissant French Toast Bake

Lastly, if you make this Baked Cinnamon Crunch French Toast, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Baked Cinnamon Crunch French Toast

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories Per Serving: 357 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • 1. Grease a 9×13 inch-baking dish with butter. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar over the bottom of the baking dish.
    2. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream cheese 1 minute. Add the whipped cream and vanilla and gradually increase the speed to high. Whip until fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
    3. Grab the bread and make a 1-inch slit at the top, move your knife to create space in the bread, being careful not to poke through to the other side. Spread the inside of the bread with cream cheese, press to enclose (see above photo). You will not need all the cream cheese, save the rest for serving.
    4. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Submerge each piece of bread into the egg mix, allowing the bread to sit at least a minute to soak up the eggs. Arrange the bread in the baking dish. Pour the remaining egg mix over the bread slices. Then sprinkle over the remaining cinnamon sugar. Cover and place in the fridge 30 minutes or overnight.
    5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375° F. In a bowl, mix 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, the flour, and butter. Arrange over the bread slices.
    6. Cover and bake 25 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 20-25 minutes or until the French toast is deeply golden.
    7. Serve the french toast warm, topped with any additional whipped cream. Enjoy!
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frecnh toast in baking dish close up

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Comments

  1. Hi! I’m making this for a crowd of 30 next week as a brunch the morning after the wedding. So, I’ll be using larger baking dishes. Do you have any suggestions for baking time/temp alterations or do I not need to worry about that and follow the recipe as is?
    Thanks so much! Beautiful recipes!

    1. Hey Leah,
      How large are the baking dishes? I would just follow the recipe as is and then increase the bake time as needed. Best of luck!! xTieghan

    1. Hey Sam!
      Amazing! Thanks for sharing your feedback and making this recipe, I am so glad it was enjoyed:)

  2. Super excited to make this for a dinner party! Quick question – when it says “place in the fridge for 30 mins or overnight”, would it hold well for 24 hours? So if I put it in the fridge at 6PM on Friday and then in the oven at 6PM on Saturday, it will still come out fine?

    1. Hey Cristian,
      Sure, I bet it would be just fine! I hope you love this recipe, please let me know if you give it a try! xx

  3. 5 stars
    This was easy and a delicious crowd pleaser. To make it easier I didn’t do the filling in each piece of bread and it is rich enough as is for our family without the cream cheese filling! Kid and adult approved brunch!

    1. Hey Amali,
      Thanks so much for trying this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Have a great week! xTieghan

    1. Hi there,
      Yes, you will want to whip the cream first:) Please let me know if you have any other questions, I hope you love this recipe! xTieghan

  4. Made this for the second time and it is just as good! Definitely one of our favorites for brunch. Followed the recipe exactly!

    1. Hey Erin,
      Happy Friday!! Love to hear you have been enjoying this recipe, thanks so much for making it:) xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    I made one batch for our family and one for our family friends and both families really loved this! It was so delicious. I made this a day ahead of time and it was so easy to throw in the oven the next morning. Our kids woke up the following morning begging for more stuffed French toast.

    1. Hi Kristyn,
      Awesome!! Thanks for making this recipe, I love to hear that it was enjoyed! Have a great week:) xTieghan

  6. 5 stars
    Omg!! This recipe is amazing!! I’ve made it twice already. My family loves it. So good for a Sunday morning breakfast or brunch!

    1. Hey Daniela,
      Awesome!! I love to hear that this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for making it!! Have a great week:) xxT

    1. Hey Heather,
      Yes, that will work well for you!! Let me know if you give the recipe a try, I hope you love it! xTieghan

    2. Did you try making this ahead of time? How did it turn out? Was the consistency of the eggs/cream still good?

  7. In step 4 – where does the “remaining cinnamon sugar” come from ? I also didn’t have enough egg for all the bread to soak in/ added : more eggs + a little milk . It was really good, but just a couple glitches.

    1. Hi Beth,
      The remaining cinnamon sugar is from step 1:) Sorry to hear you didn’t have enough egg mixture. Please let me know if I can help in any way! xTieghan

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely delicious! Great treat to serve on a weekend morning. I put this together the previous evening, added the brown sugar/butter/cinnamon mixture in the am and VOILA a masterpiece. Thank you half baked harvest, your the best!

  9. 5 stars
    This was delicious. I didn’t cut the slices of bread thick enough, so that made stuffing them with the filling kind of difficult, but the taste was fantastic! Nex time I’ll cut the bread the right size!