By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 28, 2012 at 8:14 AM

We all dream of waking up on a sunshiney, springtime Sunday morning to the smell of coffee and breakfast baking in the oven.  But, very few of us ever seem to have that sort of experience.

Rather, we find ourselves jarred from sleep (far too early) by the alarm clock, our hungry (and impatient) children, or our demanding pets.  We stumble out of bed, bleary-eyed and disgruntled, fumble for our glasses and head down the stairs to hit the morning grindstone

But, Easter morning doesn’t have to be all work and no play.

This recipe makes it easy to have your lazy Sunday brunch and eat it too. Whether you want something you can quickly and easily pop into the oven for your family when you come home from church on Easter Sunday or a delicious springtime dish to serve to company, this delicious take on baked French toast is sure to brighten your Easter morning. 

Baked Orange Dream French Toast
Serves 6

1-2 tablespoons butter
12 slices day-old French bread
2 15-ounce cans mandarin oranges, drained
8 ounces cream cheese, cubed
12 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup maple syrup
powdered sugar

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Arrange bread in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with cream cheese cubes and mandarin orange slices.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs until frothy.  Add milk, salt, vanilla, and syrup and continue whisking until well combined.  Pour over the bread.  Cover and refrigerate the pan of French toast overnight.  

When you are ready to bake the French toast, place the pan into a cold oven, set to 350 degrees F.  Bake, covered for 40 minutes.  Uncover, and continue baking until lightly browned and set, about 35-40 more minutes.

Sprinkle baked French toast with powdered sugar, and serve with maple syrup.

This week, March 26-30, presents five Easter recipes in our Dining section. You'll have the opportunity, via this contest and courtesy of Roundy's, to win the ingredients to create each featured recipe.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.