Banana Bread Pudding

We had invitations for a spring brunch on Sunday, and I’d offered to bring dessert, and I just wasn’t feeling inspired. Chocolate didn’t seem like a brunch thing, it’s too early for really great fruit yet, and I’ve made way too many citrus-based desserts lately.

The internet wasn’t helping much – it’s great for finding a recipe, but not so good at answering “What do I want to make?”. I found lots of coffeecakes (and I might go back and make some later), but coffeecake seemed too much like breakfast and not enough like brunch.

So I curled up on the couch with a pile of cookbooks, and finally decided on the Banana Bread Pudding from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. It was fruity, it didn’t have any lemon in it, and I could do 95% of it the night before. And, no, it is not made with banana bread.

I didn’t follow the recipe exactly as printed. I thought a caramel sauce would be better then the hot fudge. Also, Brioche is hard to find in grocery stores around here, and challah seemed to be a reasonable substitute. Egg-rich breads always seem to work particularly well for egg-based recipes, like bread pudding or French toast.

I sliced the bread, brushed it with butter, tossed it in the cinnamon and sugar, and toasted it. I should have been more generous with the butter – the sugar didn’t stick to the bread as well as I’d hoped, but I’d already made a mess before I realized what was wrong.

While the bread cooled, I made the custard, tossed in the bread (and dumped in the cinnamon and sugar that had fallen off), and poured it all into my 13×9, where it sat in the fridge overnight.

I also made a caramel sauce the night before, which was a bit of a mistake – the cooling and reheating process allowed the sugar to crystallize, making it very slightly gritty. Next time, I’ll make it and just keep it warm.

The next morning, I baked the bread pudding, and packed it up with the caramel, the toasted nuts, and the other 3 bananas that I’d bought but not put in the custard. The bread pudding reheated wonderfully, the caramel sauce a bit less so, but it was still good. I sliced up the bananas, and let people assemble their own plates so they could vary the toppings as they wanted.

It was very good. I’d certainly make it again – I’m always looking for dessert recipes that travel well, and this had just the right mix of familiar and different.

( see the recipe )