I couldn't wait for Christmas so I made one last night. I had some baguette that was getting pretty stale so it was a good excuse. The original recipe comes from my neighbor growing up - Audria. She'd bring us over a hot casserole on Christmas morning every year. It's one of my favorite traditions now.
16 slices white bread, crusted and buttered
1 lb cheddar cheese, shredded
1 lb bacon, ham, or breakfast sausage, cooked and diced
3 cups milk
Arrange 8 slices of bread in a 9x13 pan with the buttered side down. Spread cheese and ham over bread. Arrange remaining 8 slices of bread, buttered side up on top of bacon and cheese.
Whip eggs and milk together well. Pour over top and let sit overnight in fridge. In the morning, bake at 350’ for 1 hour. Let rest 15 minutes before serving to continue to firm up.
My adjustments: I always use bacon but generally reduce it to half a pound. I also reduce the cheese to about 1/3-1/2 a lb or just as much as it takes to make a non-skimpy layer in the pan. And I increase the eggs to 6 usually but I don't really know why I do that. Maybe I just like the number 6.
Using a crusty artisan-type bread worked just great for me this morning. I'm planning on finding a nice sourdough to use this Christmas. And it was no big deal to not crust the bread either. It's a little more like toast on the top but inside it's still casserole-like. I think using the stale bread with crusts soaked up more liquid than normal so adding more milk and egg mixture would help it be more uniform. But I kind of liked the little toasts on top so I'll leave it as-is. I'm very interested in whether or not wheat bread would work for this but I'm going to stick to sourdough for my Christmas tradition and maybe experiment more with making it 'real' later.