When my family has reunions we love making breakfast the night before so there is less cleanup to do in the morning. Then the first person up starts the coffee and puts the breakfast casserole in the oven. The sweet smell of french toast and sausage gets everybody up every time!
Spread cubed bread in a single layer on 2 sheet pans and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Cool slightly then transfer bread into a greased 9 by 13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add eggs, milk, and vanilla.
Sprinkle the raisins, dried apples, chopped apple and the sausage over the bread. Now pour the egg mixture over the bread. With a spoon, gently push the bread down until it is soaked.
You can bake it now or cover with foil and refrigerate overnight to bake in the morning.
If you are baking it in the morning leave the casserole at room temperature while the oven preheats. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees F, for 35 - 45 minutes just until the center is set.
While the french toast is baking, prepare the cinnamon syrup. Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small saucepan. Combine the water and corn starch in a measuring cup then pour into the pan.
Cook over medium heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring often. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract and butter. It will be the consistency of syrup.
When the french toast is out of the oven drizzle some syrup over it and serve the rest on the side. By now everyone has smelled it cooking and they will be ready to eat! Serve hot.