Lighter Crème Brûlée French Toast

I have been wanting to make this recipe ever since I saw it, about a year ago on Gina’s Skinny Recipes.  So, while perusing the always tempting isles of Whole Foods, I passed a few loaves of Challah bread (the main ingredient to this yummy breakfast) and had to snatch one up.  Instantly, I knew the time had come to make this really, really ridiculously good looking dish.

**Just to be clear, you must make this ahead of time (i.e. the night before)!!  And that is what I did… I knew Nate and I were going on a trail run early the next morning and what would be better than coming home to a house filled with the smell of crème brûlée french toast baking the oven after a tasty trail run (Copyright SD)?  Nothing, my friends, nothing.  And so it was.

Baked Crème Brûlée French Toast (Lightened up)
adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes

10 oz Challah bread, sliced 1 inch thick

1 cup unpacked light brown sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup flax seed meal
2 large eggs
1 cup egg substitute
1½ cups skim milk
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon, separated
Spray a 13″ x 9″ cooking dish with cooking spray.  In a small pot, combine the water and light brown sugar and melt over medium-high heat.  Stir until smooth and then pour in to the cooking dish, spreading the mixture evenly over the bottom.  Place bread slices in the dish and squeeze together to fit in so that little to no air pockets are left.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, egg substitute, vanilla, rum, flax seed meal, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and salt by whisking together. I like to put flax seed meal in just about everything, because it makes me feel better about what I’m making. Not the usual ingredient in crème brûlée, but let’s just go with it… because it’s healthy.  Pour this mixture evenly over the bread, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Next morning, wake up, take the french toast out of the fridge, set out, go on a lovely trail run, come home, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Once preheated, pop that baby in the oven, uncovered, for about 40 to 50 minutes (or until the edges are puffed up and a golden bronze, unlike my legs).  During this time, go take a shower because you seriously smell.
Once baked, sprinkle the rest of the cinnamon over it, cut yourself a piece, pour a little maple syrup on it, and stuff yourself silly.