Ever since I watched Mario Batali make a strata with rustic bread on The Chew I wanted to make one too. I make lots of egg bakes that include stratas and quiches but have never made one with cubed up crusty bread. The other day I picked up a rustic baguette and knew it was going to finally happen. I was hoping I would be worthy.
Usually when I make strata I use a loaf of white bread and cut off most of the crusts. You almost don’t notice the bread, it melds so well with the eggs and other ingredients. But this time I wanted the bread to be crusty and golden and sticking out of the egg dish so it looked impressive. It was going to be the star of the dish.
I started by cubing up the loaf of bread and that in itself was a feat. It was crusty and crispy and crumbs were flying all over, even though I was going slow and trying not to make a mess. A mess was indeed made. That stuff was not easy to cube. It finally all got cubed, is all I’m sayin’.
I’d sprayed my baking dish so I laid the cubed bread out in the pan. While I’d been cubing, I had heated a skillet and fried a package of bacon I’d diced finely. It was nice and crispy and browned when I put it aside in a bowl. With a little of the bacon grease still in the pan, I also fried up some yellow bell peppers I’d diced up. I let them fry until they were browned in places then set them aside in a bowl as well.
I found some baby spinach in my fridge that I thought would be great in the strata, so I diced some of that up. Also some roma tomatoes; I like tomatoes in egg dishes. I also diced up some green onions, preferring those over regular onions for a milder flavor.
On top of the baguette cubes in the baking dish I sprinkled the bacon, the yellow bell peppers, the tomatoes and then the green onions. It was looking colorful! Next I spread the chopped spinach and on the top I sprinkled the shredded cheddar. It was all too organized, I wanted it more spread out in the dish so I took my fingers and lifted and mixed and sort of tossed it all in reckless abandon so it was more integrated.
Next I mixed the eggs, milk, cream, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne. I whisked it well then poured it over the layers of strata. I pressed down on the top gently all over to make sure there were no empty spots and was ready to bake this gorgeous creation. I put it into the 300 degree preheated oven for 90 minutes.
The strata was SO beautiful! The egg dish puffed up and turned golden and smelled heavenly. I’d checked it at 60 minutes by inserting a knife into the center and it was still very runny and wet. At 90 minutes it was puffed up and solid when I inserted the knife.
We sliced it and ate it for dinner with fresh fruit and were thrilled with the new strata. The crispy chunks of bread were chewy and the other flavors were perfecct. We had it for breakfast for several days before I froze the final pieces for a breakfast treat in a week or two. We loved it and it certainly was easy to make, in spite of the flying bread crumbs!
1 rustic baguette (about 6 cups of cubes)
1 package bacon; finely diced
1 yellow bell pepper; diced
5 Roma tomatoes; diced
1/2 cup green onions; diced
3 cups of cheddar; shredded
16 large eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half and half
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease 9″x13″ baking dish.
Layer bread cubes into baking dish.
In a hot skillet fry bacon until crispy; remove from pan and spread over bread cubes.
Leave about a tablespoon of bacon grease in the skillet and fry the yellow bell peppers until they begin to brown. Remove from pan and spread over bread cubes.
Layer tomatoes, green onions, then chopped spinach into the baking dish. Layer the shredded cheese on top and mix entire dish with your fingers to blend and lift the bread cubes up to the top a bit.
Whisk the eggs, milk, cream and seasonings in a large bowl and pour over baking dish. Press down with your hand to make sure the liquid is spread evenly.
Put into the preheated oven for 90 minutes.
Cut into slices and serve warm.