This strawberry ricotta breakfast strata can be prepped the night before so it is easy enough for a busy morning, but still elegant enough for a special brunch.
1. While I recommend brioche bread for this strata, you can use any bread you would like. For the most luxurious, rich mouthfeel I suggest a buttery yeast bread similar to brioche, such as challah. But potato bread or Hawaiian rolls would work too.
2. You need stale, day old bread for this strata. Fresh brioche bread will completely disintegrate into the egg and milk mixture. However, if all you have is fresh bread, do NOT worry! You can just toast the bread to get the same results as stale bread. Place the cubes of bread on a sheet pan and toast them in a 250 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the cubes are just barely starting to crisp on the outside.
3. If you don’t care for ricotta, you can easily substitute goat cheese in an equal amount.
4. If you want a pretty design on top of your strata, you can use a butter knife to gently swirl through the ricotta and preserves to create a pattern.
5. For the BEST flavor and results, refrigerate the strata, covered tightly, overnight. Giving the bread time to really soak up the egg mixture makes a world of difference. Nevertheless, you can bake it the same day if needed. Just make sure you let the strata sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes to soak up some of the flavor while the oven preheats.
6. If the top of the strata is browned to your liking before the center is set, tent the top of the baking dish lightly with aluminum foil during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.