Pecan Upside-Down French Toast Casserole

This easy make-ahead brunch dish from the KCTS 9 kitchen needs no syrup. It tastes like pecan sticky buns, and is perfect for family get-togethers.

serves 8 to 10

1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 navel oranges, squeezed (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup nonfat milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 eggs
1 (1-pound loaf) French bread, cut in 1-inch slices, then cut in half

Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan and sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom. Combine melted butter and maple syrup; stir into brown sugar, spreading mixture evenly over bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

In a medium bowl whisk together orange zest, orange juice, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs. Pack bread pieces into dish crust side down. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove dish from the fridge and turn bread slices over to absorb any excess egg mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly browned and edges are bubbly. To serve, cut into squares with a spatula and invert so the pecans are on top.

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