When planning a New Year's Day brunch, don't forget to include sweet dishes on the menu. At first I thought French toast would be a bad idea — individual pieces of toast can be too much work — but than I remembered it can be baked! A lemon raspberry French toast strata puffs up into a delicious dessert-like dish. Afterwards, give guests slices of chocolate coconut banana bread to take home. Get the recipes when you


Lemon-Raspberry French Toast Strata
From Gourmet magazine

1/2 cup pure maple syrup, plus additional for serving
6 cups 1-inch cubes day-old country-style white bread with crusts (about 12 ounces or 3/4 loaf)
1 pint fresh raspberries or 1 bag of frozen raspberries
6 large eggs
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Arrange rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
  2. Lightly butter 9- by 13-inch glass baking dish or 14-inch oval gratin dish. Pour in maple syrup; scatter bread cubes and raspberries in dish.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, lemon zest, and salt; pour over bread cubes.
  4. Bake strata until puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool 5 minutes, then serve warm with additional maple syrup.

Serves 8 to 10.

Chocolate Banana Coconut Bread
From Australian Country Style magazine

1 large ripe banana, peeled and mashed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 lb milk chocolate, broken into pieces

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. Mix together the mashed banana, vanilla, eggs and milk. Stir in the sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder over the wet ingredients. Add the coconut and gently fold through the mixture, using a large metal spoon.
  3. Fold in the chocolate, being careful not to over-mix.
  4. Spoon into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Makes 1 loaf.