A very special soufflé, prepared the night before and baked in the morning, for a sumptuous meal as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate!
Preparation time: About 30 minutes
Baking time: About 1 hour 15 minutes
10 cups (approx.) of cubed Challah bread, crusts removed
5 Tbsp. butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
8 extra-large or jumbo eggs
fresh blueberries and raspberries
Generously butter a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Put the cubed bread in a very large mixing bowl and set aside. Beat the butter, cream cheese and maple together until it is smooth and uniform. Add the half and half and the extracts and beat to aerate and combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition to incorporate. Pour this mixture over the cubed bread and toss to coat fully. Allow to sit for a few minutes, then toss again. Pour bread mixture into prepared pan, sprinkle with berries, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove prepared pan from the fridge, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with slivered almonds. Place the baking pan in a larger pan and add water to the larger pan about 1/3 of the way up the glass pan (water bath). Dot the top with butter and bake for about 50-60 minutes. Remove the pan from the water bath and continue to bake about another 15-20 minutes until you see the bottom and sides of the soufflé begin to brown. Soufflé is done when a small deep slit with a sharp knife made in the center does not come out wet. It should be moist, not wet.
Allow to cool a few minutes, slice and serve with Crème Fraiche drizzled over the top and warmed maple on the side.