I have a weakness for these “cold weather” Sunday family breakfasts! They are so comforting and tasty especially with our fire on in the kitchen, steaming hot coffee, laptops and newspapers strewn around.
This is great because you can prepare it the night before, refrigerate and throw in the oven when you get up in the morning. The family will awaken to the smell of baking cheese and pancetta!!
It’s important to mark a weekend with something different!

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups day-old egg enriched bread, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2lb thickly sliced pancetta, diced
6 large eggs
1&1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder (I use Colmans)
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped cup freshly grated gruyere cheese (about 6 ounces)

Grease an 8 inch square baking dish and spread the cubed bread in the bottom.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium to low heat.
Add the onions, salt and sugar.
Saute until they are lightly caramelized, a golden brown color, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another heavy skillet, heat the other tbsp olive oil over medium heat saute the pancetta until the fat is almost all rendered and it begins to get crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set on a paper towel to drain.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, thyme and nutmeg.
Season with about 1/4 tsp of the salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Spread the pancetta over the bread cubes then layer the onions on top.
Sprinkle the grated gruyere cheese on next then pour the egg mixture over the entire thing.
Press down on the top gently so that all the bread cubes get soaked a bit with the egg mixture.
Cover and refrigerate overnight

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 F and take the casserole out of the fridge while the oven is preheating.
Bake, uncovered for 30 to 50 minutes or until the edges are bubbling and the top begins to brown.

NB – The baking time will be greatly dependent on the depth of the dish you use.
Check the interior with a knife. if it comes out clean, the bread/custard is baked through.
Cover with foil near the end of cooking is the top is brown enough for your taste.