Berry, Bacon, and Bourbon French Toast Strata
- 4 ounces sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- Butter, for the baking dish
- 10 cups 3/4-inch diced sourdough baguette
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons bourbon, divided
- 3 cups blackberries, raspberries, or strawberries (stemmed and halved), or a combination
- 8 large eggs
- 3 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until golden but not yet crisped, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to a foil-lined heat-resistant plate or a silicone mat. Drain the bacon fat and return the bacon to the skillet over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar. Spread the mixture out in an even layer and cook, stirring and spreading occasionally, until the bacon and melted sugar are mahogany brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture back to the foil-lined plate, spreading it into an even layer, and set aside to cool.
- Butter an 3-Qt. baker and set aside. In a medium bowl, use an electric beater or a spoon to combine the cream cheese, granulated sugar, allspice, and 3 tablespoons of the bourbon. Set aside.
- Arrange half of the bread in the prepared casserole. Top with half of the cream cheese mixture (use two spoons to dot it in teaspoon-sized mounds) and half of the berries. Add the remaining bread, the bacon, the remaining cream cheese mixture, and the remaining berries. Set the casserole aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour the egg mixture over the casserole, cover, and chill at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
- Remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bake the casserole uncovered until the top is puffed and golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Set aside to cool 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the maple syrup and remaining 4 teaspoons of bourbon.
- Serve the strata with the maple-bourbon syrup on the side.