As I sat on the porch of our family home in Georgia, sipping on a glass of sweet tea, my neighbor Mrs. Thompson shared stories of her travels to the deep south. She spoke of the vibrant culture, the warm-hearted people, and most importantly, the mouth-watering food. One particular dish she mentioned was the Baked Banana Pudding. She described it as a heavenly dessert, rich in flavor and history. This pudding wasn’t just a dish; it was a memory, a story, a tradition. Inspired by her tales and the fond memories of my grandmother’s version of this dessert, I decided to recreate this Southern classic. Here’s my take on the beloved Baked Banana Pudding.
How to Prepare Baked Banana Pudding
Ingredients for Baked Banana Pudding
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- A pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup, plus an additional tablespoon of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups of fresh milk
- 1 tablespoon banana essence (as an alternative to liqueur)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, chilled
- 3 ripe bananas, sliced (you can add more if you like)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 pack of vanilla wafers (around 12 ounces)
- A hint of cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar for meringue
Directions for Baked Banana Pudding
- Begin by separating the egg yolks from the whites. Place the whites in a mixing bowl and the yolks in a saucepan.
- To make the custard, combine sugar, salt, and flour with the yolks. Gradually add milk while whisking to ensure a smooth mixture.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat, continuously whisking until it thickens to a ribbon-like consistency.
- Remove from heat and stir in the banana essence, vanilla, and cold butter. Mix until the butter is fully incorporated. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- As you wait for the oven to heat, toss the banana slices in lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
- In a baking dish, layer the ingredients: Start with a layer of custard, followed by vanilla wafers, bananas, and then another layer of custard. Repeat this process.
- For the meringue, whisk the egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Spread the meringue over the pudding, creating artistic ridges with a spatula.
- Bake in the oven until the meringue turns a golden brown, which should take about 7 to 10 minutes. You can serve it warm or let it chill in the refrigerator before serving.
Can I use banana flavoring instead of banana liqueur?
Yes, you can use banana essence or flavoring as a substitute for banana liqueur. It gives the pudding a delightful banana aroma without the alcohol content.
How can I prevent my bananas from turning brown in the pudding?
Tossing the banana slices in freshly squeezed lemon juice before adding them to the pudding can help prevent browning and retain their fresh appearance.
Is it essential to use vanilla wafers in the recipe?
While vanilla wafers add a delightful crunch and flavor to the pudding, you can experiment with other cookies or even leave them out based on your preference.
Can I make this pudding ahead of time?
Yes, you can prepare the pudding a day in advance and refrigerate it. However, it’s best to add the meringue topping just before baking to ensure it remains fluffy and golden.
How do I store leftover baked banana pudding?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal freshness.
Can I use brown sugar instead of white sugar?
Yes, brown sugar can be used as a substitute for white sugar. It will give the pudding a richer, molasses-like flavor.
Is there a dairy-free alternative to milk in this recipe?
Yes, almond milk, coconut milk, or any other dairy-free milk can be used as a substitute for regular milk in this recipe.
Can I add other fruits to this pudding?
Absolutely! While bananas are the star of this dish, you can experiment by adding berries, mangoes, or any other fruit of your choice.
How do I know when the meringue is perfectly baked?
The meringue is perfectly baked when it turns a golden brown color. It should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Can I use whipped cream instead of meringue as a topping?
Yes, if you’re not a fan of meringue or simply want a change, whipped cream makes a delicious alternative topping for this pudding.
Southern-Style Baked Banana Pudding
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tablespoon banana liqueur
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon cold butter
- 3 very ripe bananas or more to taste, sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 12 ounce package miniature vanilla wafers
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Separate eggs, placing the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks into a saucepan.
- Prepare the custard: Add sugar, salt, and 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour to the yolks. Splash in about 1/4 of the milk and start blending mixture with a whisk. Pour in remaining milk and whisk until smooth.
- Cook and stir mixture over medium heat until hot to the touch, occasionally dipping your finger in to test. Whisk constantly until custard is thick enough to form ribbons.
- Remove custard from heat and add banana liqueur, vanilla, then cold butter. Whisk until butter dissolves. Set custard aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Begin to assemble the pudding: Toss banana slices with lemon juice.
- Spread 1/4 of the custard over the bottom of a baking dish. Add a single layer of vanilla wafers. Cover with 1/2 of the bananas and spread 1/2 of the remaining custard on top. Add another layer of vanilla wafers, using slightly fewer this time. Top with remaining bananas and custard. Smooth the top and tap dish against the counter to settle the pudding.
- Make the meringue topping: Add cream of tartar to the egg whites. Beat using the whisk attachment until foamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Spread meringue over the pudding using a soft spatula, creating ridges for contrast.
- Bake in the preheated oven until meringue is nicely browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.