“Crisis” may be a bit of an overstatement, but we had 4 grossly ripe bananas around this past weekend. I normally peel and freeze ripe bananas to bake with later, but these bananas were so super ripe that I was going to be able to peel them without the ‘naners totally falling apart!
I love banana bread (esp. my recipe, which is dense and cake-like), but I can only bake that recipe so often without going bananas! (Waa waaaaa.) So I wanted to explore my banana recipe options. Conveniently, most recipes call for 2 bananas, and I had 4! Thus my banana crisis allowed me to try out 2 recipes. The one in this post is spiced banana bread pudding. In part 2 you can look forward to banana butterscotch cupcakes! You’ll need a couple of special equipment items for this recipe: a large slow cooker and a 2-qt soufflé dish. And while I used this recipe to address my banana problem, you can also use a large peeled and cored peach, apple, or pear to replace the bananas. If you make this substitution, do a fine dice before pre-cooking the fruit in butter.
Directions: When picking your bread, you’ll want to choose something that is firm, but the flavor is up to you. If the bread is too soft, the pudding will just fall apart. The firmness of the bread is what will give the pudding structure. The one I used was Semifreddi’s country levain.
Melt a third of the butter (1 t) in a small sauce pan. Cut up the bananas and add to the pot. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Add 1 T of granulated sugar and cook for another minute.
Toss the banana mixture with the bread chunks and pile this combo in a 2-qt soufflé dish. Now it’s time to make the custard. Crack open the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside so they can rise to room temperature. In the small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until the milk just starts to bubble. Add 0.5 C of granulated sugar and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and cool for 10 minutes. Temper* the eggs by whisking in small amounts of the milk mixture at a time (~0.5 C increments). Pour the custard over the bread. Promote the bread soaking up the custard by covering the top with plastic wrap and weighting down a small saucer to compress the bread. Let sit for 20 minutes.
*Tempering allows you to add the semi-warm milk to the eggs without scrambling them. So adding small amounts slowly is actually important! You should discard the custard and start over if you see the egg whites cook.
Remove the saucer and plastic wrap. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, and 3 T of sugar. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread and dot with the remaining butter.
Place the soufflé dish in the slow cooker, and pour enough hot water into the base of the slow cooker to rise up the edge of the soufflé dish about 1-1.5″. Cover the slow cooker top with a kitchen towel, and place the lid on top.
Set the slow cooker on high for 2-2.5 hours. The pudding is done when a cake tester comes out mostly clean. For this deep dish, I used a skewer. Carefully remove the dish from the slow cooker. You might need someone to help you by propping up the bottom with a spatula. And be careful to not burn yourself! Cool on a rack for at least 10 minutes. If desired, broil the top of your soufflé for 4-5 minutes.
If you’re feeling super decadent, drizzle with warm rum or brandy. Or serve with a scoop of ice cream!