How do you make a big, bold, savory French toast even bigger, bolder and more savory? Instead of building it a slice at a time, you build it by the loaf.
My inspiration was a pillow-soft loaf of unsliced sandwich bread. Looking at it, I wondered what would happen if instead of cutting it into traditional slices and frying it a piece at a time -- or even assembling it in a layer as a casserole -- I instead cut the entire loaf horizontally into a few thick planks, stuffed it, then reassembled it in a loaf pan.
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This recipe is the delicious result of that wondering.
Since French toast is such a perfect fall dinner -- warm and comforting -- I kept the fillings savory with ham, cheddar cheese and turkey. But if you'd rather go sweet, you could substitute jam, peanut butter, cream cheese, fresh berries, even chocolate chips.
While this dish can be assembled and immediately baked, it is even better if you give it time to soak. You can assemble it the night before, then refrigerate until the following day an hour before dinner. Just pop it in the oven when you get home from work.
• J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets @JM--Hirsch. Email him at email@example.com.