Banana Walnut Bread Pudding With Butterscotch-Banana Sauce
From the Bromberg Bros. Blue Ribbon Cookbook
Serves 8 to 10
During one of the early days after we first opened the Blue Ribbon Market, we got it in our heads to fill the display shelves with a variety of our gorgeous homemade breads. We soon realized that we had grossly underestimated our shelf space. We had to make hundreds of loaves to make it look full—way more than we could sell.
As if on cue, a French chef (who shall remain nameless) walked into the crazy Bromberg brothers’ bread extravaganza and said he wanted to buy some loaves of white bread to make bread pudding. We were surrounded by baguettes and feeling somewhat frustrated. “You’re welcome to take any bread you want,” we told him. And he looked at us, horrified, saying, “No, no, I need pain de mie!” He walked out, disgusted that we didn’t have the proper pullman white bread for bread pudding.
As soon as he left we decided to prove him wrong. We started cutting up all those baguettes and folded the pieces into the custard we had made for crÃ¨me brÃ»lée. Then we played around and added different flavorings to different batches (banana walnut turned out to be our favorite), and cooked it all in a water bath. While baking, our puddings smelled sweet, yeasty, and eggy, and they came out golden brown, crunchy on the outside and custardy smooth on the inside. We haven’t used a traditional bread pudding recipe since.
1 vanilla bean
11 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) baguette or other white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
1 pound bananas, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick (2 to 4 bananas)
¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted (see Note, page 111)
Butterscotch-Banana Sauce (page 167)
1 Using a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a bowl; reserve the pod. Add the egg yolks and ¾ cup of the sugar and whisk until thick and yellow (whisk the mixture immediately to prevent the sugar from “cooking” the eggs).
Blue Ribbon Wisdom
Variations Bread pudding can take on a lot of forms. If you love fruit, you can make it with fruit; if you love chocolate, you can make it with chocolate; if you love walnuts and candied ginger . . . The banana and chocolate versions are the most popular, so we always have them on the menu. But we still like to come up with new flavors, and they’ve all been well received—especially rum raisin, apple and dried cherry, and even a version with lychee, which is a great complement to the menu at Blue Ribbon Sushi. So let your taste buds be your guide, and come up with your own house favorite.
White Chocolate Butterscotch with bananas
Makes about 3 cups
We took an old-fashioned butterscotch recipe and added a little white chocolate.
The result? The white chocolate softens the bitterness of the caramel and brings
a luscious creamy texture to the sauce. Bananas make the perfect partner, but if you
don’t have any ripe ones around, you can leave them out. Serve this over ice cream,
pound cake, or sliced fruit. Or eat it directly off the spoon!
½ cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 pound plus 2 ounces finely chopped white chocolate (see Blue Ribbon Wisdom, page 150)
2 bananas, diced
1 In a heavy skillet, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water over medium
heat. Cook, tilting the pan occasionally so that the sugar cooks evenly, until
the sugar turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let
darken to a deep, nutty brown.