This puffy, custardy pudding is like eggs, bacon and French toast, all in one dish. It’s also superb the next day. Zoe Nathan always makes extra so she can slice it and fry it in butter during the week. Plus: F&W's Ultimate Guide to Brunch Recipes
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon on it in a single layer. Bake the bacon for 25 to 30 minutes, until it is browned and nearly crisp. Transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain and cool, then coarsely chop it.
Meanwhile, butter a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the crème fraîche, sugar, vanilla seeds and salt, then beat in the half-and-half and the 3/4 cup of maple syrup.
Layer half of the brioche slices in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of the chopped bacon. Repeat the layering with the remaining brioche and bacon. Pour the custard over the brioche and gently press the bread into the custard. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Uncover the bread pudding and bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes, until puffed and the center is just set. Let stand for 15 minutes. Serve with chopped pecans and maple syrup.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.
Leftover bread crusts, such as those from the brioche here, can be lightly toasted, then chopped in a food processor to use as bread crumbs.