That’s bread pudding, banana NOT pudding, banana bread. Got it?
I mentioned that last week’s BBQ shrimp absolutely REQUIRES french bread. And I’m not even get all dietitian-y on you and say that you should choose a whole wheat loaf. It’s just not the same, the white kind is light and fluffy and soaks up juice like no other, so it must be had. But when it’s just one or two of you, there’s definitely going to be some left over (or at least I hope so, that’s a TON of bread). This left me with a serious dilemma: french bread is nowhere near as good the second day…what should I do with it??
Answer: bread pudding.
My first job ever was as a prep cook when I was 16 (I couldn’t even drive myself to my first shifts!). I was a scrawny little white girl in a kitchen of ex-gang members, non-citizens, and a crazy 47 year old woman from Wisconsin. As a kitchen should be. Man, did I love that job. Sure, portioning pasta sometimes got tedious and I may have gotten yelled at for my less-than-beautiful brownie cutting skills, but the boys always looked out for me and took over when we had to julienne vegetables on the mandoline (I was terrified of slicing my fingers), and there were some awesome tasks, like portioning chocolate mousse. I lived for those days. We made giant plastic containers full that I could have fit inside, and I got to scoop it out with a giant spoon into piping bags to make plating a breeze. Guess who licked the spoon on that one.
And then there was the bread pudding.
We made bread pudding less frequently than most of the other desserts, because it was often overlooked on the menu. Give a person a choice between a brownie sundae and bread pudding, and chances are they’ll go with the brownie sundae. But this dessert was delicious. big chunks of crusty bread, filled with holes and dry as a bone was soaked in a custard of eggs, cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, and rum until the big soggy chunks could drink up no more of the rich liquid. I’d sneak pieces between jobs, risking the raw egg for love of the creamy, spicy, sweet flavor. Of course, I got teased about being drunk off the tiny bit of rum in the mix.
Normally, bread pudding can be really tough on the waistline, and not for good reasons. Full of cream, sugar, and eggs and topped with buttery, sugary sauces, the calories can get a little out of hand.
I like to think of my leftover frenchbread pudding as a riff on french toast, a lighter version of bread pudding that can be eaten more regularly. Along with left over bread, I had some older bananas and part of a handful of chocolate covered pretzels that I’d grabbed out of the bulk bin at Rouses to satisfy a craving that I’d soon forgotten about. Things were lookin good.
I was able to make a lighter version by making sensible swaps: skim milk for cream, egg whites for whole eggs, and bananas to cut the sugar to almost none.
For the custard portion, I mixed egg whites (from the carton) with two mashed up bananas, enough skim milk to make it nice and liquidy so that the bread could soak it up, a generous amount of cinnamon, and a dash of nutmeg. I mixed it all together and poured it over the bread, cubed, in a bowl, mixing to ensure that every piece was soaked. After dumping the whole soggy mess into an 8×8 pan coated in cooking spray, I sprinkled crushed pretzels over the entire pan. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. If you like crispy bits of bread (like me), keep going a little longer until the desired consistency is reached.