Baked Orange Pecan French Toast

Makes 4-6 servings
A great make-ahead recipe! Soak the French bread in an orange flavored mixture the night before, and pop it in the oven in the morning. Easy, yet elegant!

6 eggs
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup milk
3 tablespoons orange liqueur
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel (zest)
½ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 slices French bread, thick sliced
1/3 cup butter, melted
½ cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Fresh fruit, for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk or beat together eggs, orange juice, milk, orange liqueur, sugar, orange peel, vanilla and nutmeg. Dip each slice of French bread in mixture to coat both sides. Place soaked bread slices in a single layer on an ungreased 10 X 15-inch jelly –roll pan. Pour any remaining mixture over bread. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Next morning: PREHEAT OVEN TO 375 DEGREES F. Divide melted butter evenly between two 13 X 9-inch glass baking dishes and spread to completely cover bottom of dishes. Place soaked bread slices in a single layer in the two dishes and sprinkle with pecans. Bake on middle rack in oven for 20 minutes. Do not turn slices over. If crisper French toast is desired, turn oven up to 400 degrees F. and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until crisp and golden brown. Remove from baking dishes to warm plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with fresh fruit. Offer variety of syrups.