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French toast is a sweet treat

PERFECT FOR: Brunches, holiday family breakfasts.

MAKE AND TAKE: Assemble and bake at destination, or transport it warm. This dish is delicious warm or at room temperature.

MADE FAMOUS BY: Curly Stephens of St. Petersburg, who discovered it when his sister-in-law, who had clipped it from Vermont Life magazine, brought it to a brunch while he was visiting. "Of course, I had to have the recipe, and I have been serving it ever since," he said.

Much of the prep for this beautiful, delicious breakfast treat can be done the night before.

TIP: If you don't have a large enough serving platter - or the courage to invert a hot pan of syrupy bread - just serve the French toast from the baking pan.

Share the recipe for your favorite potluck, bake sale or casual gathering dish with us. Send the recipe, a short testimonial, your name, phone number and hometown to Jeanne Besser, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eighth Floor, 72 Marietta St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30303. Or e-mail her at jbesser@ ajc.com.

BRUNCH

Vermont Baked Pecan French Toast

8 eggs

1-1/2 cups milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 (12-ounce) loaf French bread, sliced -3/4 inch thick

1/4 cup (-1/2 stick) butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat together the eggs, milk, vanilla and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Pour half the mixture into a 9- by 13-inch pan. Layer the pan with slices of bread (probably about 12). Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread; cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate 9- by 13-inch pan, melt the butter. Stir in the remaining -1/2 cup brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the soaked bread slices on top; pour any remaining egg liquid over the bread.

Bake until the bread is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Run a knife along the edges of the pan, then invert a serving platter over the pan. Flip the pan and plate over together to invert the baked French toast onto the platter.

Makes 6 servings.

Hands on: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, plus overnight refrigeration

Per serving: 497 calories (42 percent from fat), 15g protein, 57g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 23g fat (8g saturated), 275mg cholesterol, 534mg sodium.

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