WHY stand frying French toast one by one when you can bake it in the oven in one big batch? What's even better, you can prepare this the night before – cover with clingfilm and rest in the fridge after adding the custard, then pop in the oven in the morning. Serves eight
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
16 slices white sandwich bread
115g unsalted butter, softened
700ml whole milk
6 large eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Maple syrup, yoghurt or berries, to serve
Preheat your oven to 230ºC. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small dish. Line two large baking sheets with foil.
Place the bread slices on the baking sheets in one layer. Spread each slice of bread with a teaspoon of butter, then sprinkle each slice with a teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Toast the trays of bread in the oven until the bread is golden colour, and the cinnamon sugar makes a caramelised crunch on top, about seven to 10 minutes, then remove from the oven. Reduce the oven to 190ºC.
Generously butter a 23cm x 32cm baking dish.
Cut two slices of the cinnamon toast in half horizontally and set aside. Arrange the baking dish so that the longer side is facing you on the counter. Place the bottom half of a divided slice of cinnamon toast in the upper left-hand corner, cut side facing left. Arrange your first full slice of cinnamon toast on top of it, so that the upper crust of the slice meets the left side of the pan. Arrange six more slices across the top of the dish, crusts in the same direction, overlapping each slightly. Finish with the top of a divided slice of toast. Repeat across the bottom of the pan, with the toasts facing the opposite direction.
Whisk the milk, eggs, salt and vanilla in a medium bowl and pour over the toast in the baking dish.
Let it sit for 15 minutes so that the custard absorbs.
Before baking, if you've got any extra cinnamon sugar, sprinkle it over the French toast. Bake for 30 minutes until puffed and golden and no liquid seeps out of the bread when it is nudged in the pan. Cut into squares and serve plain, with maple syrup, or with a dollop of plain yoghurt and fresh berries. – The Telegraph