photograph by Matt Hulsman

Yield: 6 servings.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large loaf French bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (day-old preferred)
6 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into cubes

Blueberry Topping

½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup maple syrup
1½ cups crushed corn flakes
¼ cup powdered sugar (for garnish)

Lightly spread 2 tablespoons of softened butter in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, making sure to get all four corners of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt.

Place half of the bread cubes in prepared dish. Top with half of the cream cheese cubes. Add remaining bread cubes and top with remaining cream cheese. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes, pressing down so that the bread is completely soaked by the egg mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, add blueberries and maple syrup. Sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over blueberries and toss so they are evenly coated. Spread blueberries evenly over bread mixture. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil; sprinkle corn flakes over the top. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until center is firm and cereal is crispy.

Let cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with maple or blueberry syrup.

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Lynn Wells is a personal chef with more than 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry and a degree in Nutrition Management from UNCG.