A delicious Louisiana classic that is really, really good.
This is really my husband’s dish. He was reading one of my cookbooks a few days ago, and this morning started putting this together right after breakfast.
I kept turning my nose up at the bananas, but the resulting flavor was like bread pudding got mixed up with my Grandma’s banana pudding. Delicious!
Note, this recipe calls for Praline Liqueur. If you have trouble finding it, I would imagine that any good rum, bourbon, or any other nut liqueur would be just as good. Second, some of the quantities in this recipe seem excessive, but they’re not. If you do find yourself with leftover Banana Sauce, I’m pretty sure it would great heated up and served over vanilla ice cream. Third, the original recipe does not state to cook this in a water bath, but given the volume of eggs and milk, the best way to get the custard to set properly (slowly), is to set the pan in a water bath. We used a large disposable aluminum foil pan to hold the large casserole pan needed for this.
You will need:
11 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 quart whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Twenty-four 3/4-inch pieces of french bread, about 18-inches a crusty loaf
To make the Sauce:
1 pound salted butter
1 pound brown sugar
4 bananas, sliced
1/4 cup Praline Liqueur (or rum, or bourbon, or any other good nutty liqueur).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, the sugar, milk, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until well blended. In a well-buttered 9×13 casserole pan, place all the torn bread. Pour most of the egg mixture into the pan. Let it soak; it also helps to use a spoon or spatula to gently press (submerge) the pieces of bread into the custard so that it all gets absorbed. Add the remainder of the custard. I usually let it sit on the counter for an hour or two, or in the fridge if you have room.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
If you are making the large casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil. Place the casserole dish in a larger pan (a disposable aluminum foil pan, the large turkey size one). Put it in the oven, and add about an inch of hot water to create a water bath, aka bain marie. I say to put it in the oven first, because you don’t want to be carrying around a flimsy aluminum foil pan full of hot water! Place the foil-covered bread putting in the center of the bain marie.
Our bread pudding took about 2 hours to completely set the custard.
It took another 30 minutes or so for it to stop steaming once removed from the oven.
We flipped the bread pudding out of the casserole dish (why? to see if we could!), and here you can see the underside of the bread pudding, which, thanks to the generous buttering and slow cooking, it slid right out. The underside of the bread pudding was as smooth and shiny as glass.
I think that the heavy ceramic baking dish that was chosen helped with the slow cooking/setting process, as did the bain marie. We then flipped it back over so that the crunchy pieces on top would be served right side up.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the light brown sugar and whisk over the heat until smooth. Slice the bananas into the sauce, and add the praline liqueur. Reduce the heat to low to keep the sauce warm.
You should get 12 servings out of this dish. Cut a piece, center it on a small plate, and top with about 1/2 cup of the sauce, making sure to get some bananas in there.
Note: Here in South Louisiana, bread pudding is usually served in the dish that it is baked in, not in individual servings. If it is removed from it’s original dish prematurely, it has a tendency to dry out over time. The recipe we were following was from a very old New Orleans restaurant, and there instructions were for original servings, given below.
To make individual servings, per the original recipe:
In a nonstick oversized muffin pan (for 12), place the torn up bread evenly. Pour the egg mixture into each muffin cup. Allow the bread to absorb the mixture and repeat the process until the bread is saturated and the muffin cup is full; it might take 3 or 4 fillings to totally saturate the bread and fill the cups. Bake the pudding for 35 minutes.
When the pudding is baked, remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 1 minutes to cool. Invert the muffin pan to remove the puddings and expose the custard. Place each on the center of a plate and ladle the sauce onto the pudding. Serve immediately.
Source: Galatoire’s Cookbook, via Food & Wine Best of the Best Vol. 9, 2006.