May is my favorite month for so many reasons. The weather here in South Alabama is as close to perfect as it can get. It’s cool in the mornings and afternoons, which makes it perfect to be able to enjoy the outdoors. Also, it hasn’t gotten humid or muggy yet, which is a huge plus for me (and my hair!) This is the month where it’s still comfortable to sit out on your front porch, go for a walk and even pick a few wild berries with your family.
There’s a huge patch of wild dewberries right up the road from my house that are always begging to be picked during this time of year, so my husband and I like to grab a giant bowl out of the cupboard and make an adventure out of it!
When I first moved out to the country, I had never in my life heard of dewberries. I did a little bit of research and discovered that there is very little difference between dewberries and blackberries. Basically, one grows on a vine with more thorns than the other. They have the same taste and produce a few times a year, which is awesome! I’m able to pick berries and freeze them to use all throughout the year.
There’s tons of things that you can make with fresh berries. Straying away from the typical cobblers and pies, I decided to go for something a tad bit different, and I’m SO glad I did! Last night I did a little pantry/refrigerator digging to see what I could throw together with my fresh batch of dewberries. I decided to take a stab at making a Blackberry Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole, and boy did it turn out delicious! This one is definitely a keeper, and one that I will very likely be requesting for breakfast in bed on my birthday this year. 😉
I noticed a loaf of bread sitting on my counter that was starting to get a little old. I went ahead and opened it up and allowed air to get to it for a few hours so it would stale. Old and stale bread is perfect for making french toast with! I’ve also found some great deals at the “oops, we baked too much” rack at Walmart where they price drop all of the bakery bread that didn’t sell the previous day. I frequently get bread for right around 50 cents!
You want to look for a rich, sweeter bread if at all possible. If not, regular bread works fine! I cut up about 2 cups worth into small 1-inch pieces.
Note: This is something that needs to sit overnight in the fridge before baking, so if you’re planning on making this, don’t plan to make it on the fly! Here’s a printable version of the recipe for your convenience:
- 8 eggs
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup lowfat greek yogurt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups chopped bread
- 1 8oz package of honey nut cream cheese
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3 Tbs butter, cut into small squares
- Pam, or other baking spray
- Extra sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon for topping
- Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with Pam.
- In a large bowl, wish together eggs, milk, yogurt, vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon.
- Add in chopped bread and stir together gently.
- Pour mixture into baking dish.
- Using a spoon, tuck a small dollop of cream cheese in between bread pieces, making sure to use the entire container.
- Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
- Before baking, remove dish from fridge and let sit out for 30 or so minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Top casserole with small, cut pieces of butter.
- Sprinkle top of casserole generously with extra sugar and cinnamon if desired.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Once my casserole was ready, I served with a warm, fresh blackberry compote. It’s a great way to use up fresh berries, and boy is it delicious! You can also serve with powdered sugar and/or a syrup of your choice.
Here’s what I used to make my blackberry compote (and it only took 10 minutes!)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen berries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 1 TBS lemon zest
In a saucepan, bring ingredients to a low boil, being sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching. Allow berries to cook for roughly 10 minutes or until sauce is at desired thickness. Remove from heat and allow to sit for just a few minutes. Then, pour over your french toast casserole and enjoy!
The casserole made my entire house smell AMAZING while it was cooking away in the oven. I was SO glad when my timer dinged because I didn’t want to wait another minute to take a big ol’ bite! (I had to let it cool a little though. No burnt tongues for me, thanks!)
I topped with my blackberry compote and then sprinkled a smidge of powdered sugar on top, you know, for good measure. I’m itching to go back to that dewberry patch up the road and see if there’s any more berries ready to pick, because I’ll definitely be making this several times this year. Mmm mmm!
Have you ever been blackberry/dewberry picking? What’s your favorite thing to make with fresh berries? Leave a comment below and let’s chat!