Start your morning strong with this cheesy French toast loaf topped with bechamel sauce and a fried egg.
4 to 6 servings
For the French toast:
1 large French or sourdough bread loaf
12 slices ham
12 slices Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Parmesan cheese, for topping
For the bechamel sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, warmed
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Prepare the loaf: Cut bread loaf into 1/2-inch slices Hasselback style, which means you will not cut all the way through the loaf. Place a piece of ham into each pocket, along with a slice of Gruyere.
In a large bowl, combine eggs, whole milk and heavy cream. Place prepared bread into a large baking dish. Pour egg mixture over loaf and allow to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Make the bechamel sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter and flour. Whisk for a few minutes until flour starts to brown slightly. Slowly add warmed milk while continuing to whisk. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Bake the croque madame loaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pour bechamel sauce over the top of the soaked French loaf, and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Serve at brunch or as an appetizer! Enjoy!