A Breakfast Casserole – in cake form! All the morning essentials present – bacon, eggs, milk, bread and cheese – it’s a breakfast strata that tastes like a cross between quiche, omelette and savoury French toast with cheesy custardy insides, and a golden crusty surface.
Excellent way to make use of leftover bread. Make it now or leave it overnight, then just pop it in the oven the next day!
Breakfast Casserole – Strata Cake!
Being completely upfront – this is not a real dish as such, it’s just something I made up on a whim back when I first published it over 5 years ago as a way to make breakfast for a group without frying up individual bacon and eggs for everyone.
It’s essentially a breakfast casserole or a savoury bread and butter pudding, made with bread soaked in eggs and milk, scattered with cheese and bacon, then baked until golden on the surface, custardy and cheesy on the inside.
And rather than baking it the traditional way in a casserole dish, I’ve used a cake pan – so you also get golden sides and the fun factor of being able to serve slices of it like cake!
Something different – but you know it’s going to be tasty – right?! I like the way you sort of get “swirls” throughout the “cake”, which are really just the crust of the baguette I chopped up to make this breakfast “cake”!
What you need for this breakfast cake
Here’s all you need to make this breakfast strata – bread, eggs, bacon, cheese and milk. All the breakfast essentials!
Absolutely any bread is fine – I like long breadsticks / baguette-type because you get more “swirls” on the inside because there’s a higher crust to crumb ratio. You can also easily switch bacon for ham.
Also, bonus if it’s stale bread because it holds its form better once soaked in the egg mixture. However fresh works just fine too. The bread used in the recipe video and photos is fresh.
How to make this Breakfast Strata
It’s so easy you can do it even when you’re still half asleep. Though to make your mornings even more relaxing, mix it up the night before then just pop it in the oven the next morning!
- Slice / tear bread into 2.5cm / 1″ pieces. Leave the crust on unless you’re using a really thick-crusted bread. Nobody wants super-thick, chewy crust inside when it’s supposed to be soft and custardy!
- 7 cups bread – You need 7 cups of bread in total, just lightly pushed down to fill the cup. I can’t give you a weight because different breads differ in weight for the same volume. Cup measurements are the best way I can describe it!
- Whisk together the eggs and milk;
- Soak bread – Mix the bread in until it’s totally soaked through with egg mixture, then stir through most of the cooked bacon and cheese (hold some back for sprinkling);
- Pour into cake pan – Pour the mixture in a very well-buttered non-stick cake pan. A springform pan is the handiest but a cake pan without a loose base is fine too because the strata cake holds together well enough to turn it out. If you know your cake pan is prone to being sticky, line it with parchment paper because eggs are the ultimate food glue and added cheese makes it like superglue!
- Bake 45 minutes – Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes, then remove cover and bake for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden and crusty. Check with a skewer inserted into the centre to ensure no raw egg mixture is on it. Let it stand for a few minutes to stabilise then remove the cake pan sides (if you used a springform pan) or turn it out carefully.
The smell when this is baking is mouth-watering! It smells like a Quiche Lorraine, and though admittedly it looks a lot more rustic than a quiche, it is a whole lot less effort to put together!!
A very appealing feature of this recipe is that it’s highly customisable. I’ve gone with the breakfast staple of bacon here, but there’s plenty of other options – including adding things like chicken to make it lunch or even dinner worthy:
- Ham in place of the bacon – a great way to use up leftover Christmas ham (skip the bacon-crisping step).
- Garlic butter roasted mushrooms would be particular great and also fitting for breakfast. Halve or quarter so they incorporate better (whole will be too large);
- Any chargrilled or roasted vegetables (follow directions in this Roasted Vegetables Pasta Salad recipe);
- Feta or goat’s cheese – crumbled;
- Chicken – cooked, chopped or shredded. Even leftover flavoured chicken eg from tacos or a chicken that was marinated like my Everyday Chicken Marinade;
- Smoked fish – the oilier the better, so it won’t dry out. Think flaked smoked mackerel, herring/kippers or hot-smoked trout. Regular cold-smoked salmon would also work – it’ll cook in the strata because it’s thin and become “hot-smoked” – delicious!
- Spinach – Make my garlic sauteed spinach, chop roughly and distribute before baking.
- Breakfast sausages – Remove skin, break into small pieces, pan-fry as per bacon.
- Olives, sun dried tomatoes and other antipasto-type things.
To serve, slice it up just like cake. If you’re the civilised sort, eat it with a fork but it holds together well enough to just eat it with your hands. 😉Excellent food for on the go! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Cheese & Bacon Breakfast Strata Cake (Breakfast Casserole!)
- 300g / 10 oz bacon , diced (or ham)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk (full cream or low fat)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Black pepper
- 7 cups (packed) any plain bread (I use baguettes) , cut into 2 cm / 1 inch cubes (preferably slightly stale, Note 1)
- 2 cups cheese , shredded (Note 2)
- parsley , finely chopped (garnish – optional)
- Cook bacon: Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high heat. (Use a bit of oil if not using non-stick). Add all but 2 tbsp of bacon (reserve some for topping just before baking), cook until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
- Whisk eggs and milk: Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a large bowl (or container, if leaving overnight).
- Soak bread: Add the bread, 1 1/2 cups of the cheese and the cooked bacon to the egg mixture. Mix well. Cover and set aside in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (until all the egg is soaked into the bread) or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types).
- Grease cake tin: Generously grease a 20cm/8" springform cake tin with butter (cake pan without loose sides also ok, also see Note 3 re: leakage risk).
- Fill: Pour the bread mixture into the cake tin, pat down to compress. Scatter with reserved uncooked bacon and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover loosely with foil.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 15 – 20 minutes until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (no raw egg).
- Rest & slice: Allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing the springform or turning out. Garnish with parsley if using. Cut into slices to serve. Be civil and eat it on a plate with a fork, or just use your hands!
Originally published April 2015, updated October 2020 with brand new photos, video and process steps. Tidied up recipe writing but no change to recipe!
Life of Dozer
The clatter of spaghetti dropping on the floor and he was in the kitchen in a flash…..
Well, I WAS going to give them a wash and use them anyway, but he got to them first!!!