In a medium sized saucepot combine the milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla beans and scraped seeds as well as the vanilla extract. Bring to a low simmer.
In a medium bowl combine the yolks, sugar, salt and brandy. Whisk together. Once the milk mixture is up to heat, whisk some of it into the eggs to temper them. Continue by adding the remaining heated milk to the eggs. Whisk to combine and discard the vanilla beans.
Pour about 1 cup of the mixture back into the pan, leave the rest in the bowl for the bread. Bring the 1 cup mixture up to a simmer and cook until it begins to thicken. Remove from heat, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until needed.
Slice the bread into 1 inch thick slices. Depending on the size of the loaf and the pan you’re using, you may need 2 loaves to fill it up. If you can’t find day old bread, slice and then leave out uncovered, overnight to dry out. Or, place in a low oven to dry out, but not toast.
Butter all sides of a 9x13 pan.
Taking 1 slice at a time, dip into the mixture and soak for 30 seconds. Place into the greased baking dish. Continue with all of the slices, shingling the bread into rows when you add to the pan. Pour remaining mixture over the bread. Place in the fridge, covered, for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bake, tented with foil, for 50-60 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the ¼ cup of sugar and top with the almonds. Place back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Broil on high for 5 minutes to caramelize the sugar.
Remove and let cool slightly before serving. To serve scoop out a few slices, drizzle with maple syrup and reserved crème anglaise.
Recipe Courtesy of Megan Mitchell