1 loaf (14-16 ounces) challah, French bread, (sliced into 1 1/2 inches thick slices)
8 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup whole milk, (2% milk or cream can be substituted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup pecans, measured then chopped (Optional)
Maple syrup and powdered sugar for topping, (optional)
In a small bowl combine brown sugar and melted butter and pour on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.
Arrange slices of bread in the baking dish cutting and overlapping to fit if necessary.
Combine milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl and pour evenly over bread slices making sure all of the bread is covered.
Sprinkle chopped pecans over bread slices.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4-12 hours.
In the morning, take the casserole out of the fridge for at least 10 minutes while you are preheating your oven to 350°F.
Bake casserole for 30-35 minutes. If top starts browning too quickly place a foil loosely over the top of the casserole for the last 10 minutes or so. You want it to cook long enough to make sure the bottom part is cooked but don't dry it out completely.
Remove casserole from oven and let it cool slightly before serving