Compared to other Vietnamese sandwich shop goodies, banana bread pudding is relatively easy to make at home, perhaps because of its strong connection with Western desserts. The ingredients contain bread, milk, rum, and vanilla, but at the end of the day, the tropical note of banana plays the key role.
– 1 bunch of banana ~ 7-8 fingers, preferably Chuoi Su cultivar (also known as Chuoi Xiem, Pisang Siem, Siusok, Kluai Namwa Daeng)
– 1.5 loaves of old stale bread (the pullman loaf to make sandwiches)
– Rum (1 tbs for every 300g of banana) (optional)
– 2 cups milk
– 2 cups coconut milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 1/4 cups sugar
– 4 tbs melted butter
– 1 tbs vanilla (optional)
Use an 8-inch (20-25 cm) cake pan, at least 2 inches (5 cm) thick so that the bread pudding has enough room to rise. Grease the pan.
Slice bananas (in any direction) and mix lightly with rum. Powder the banana with a little bit of sugar if you want the banana to turn red after baking. If you don’t like rum, just slice the banana.
The bread: you can keep or trim off the bread rind, which would slightly change your bread pudding’s firmness. Either way, dip the bread slices into a mixture of milk, coconut milk, beaten eggs, sugar and vanilla. Squeeze the bread enough to rid it of too much liquid. This is an important step, the cake would be dry if it’s too squeezed, and fall apart if it’s too wet.
Method 1: alternate 1 layer of bread (~1.5 cm/half inch thick), 1 layer of banana, another layer of bread, etc. until reaching the rim of the pan. Try to have room for a layer of banana on top. Firmly and evenly press the layers down so that the baked cake won’t be too spongy or crumbly.
Method 2: mix banana with soaked bread, fill up the pan with the mixture and have 1 layer of sliced banana on top. The result will be a finer texture.
Bake at 175C (350F) or until golden. Quick check: stick a small chopstick/toothpick deep into the bread pudding and pull it out, if the chopstick/toothpick is dry, the banh is done. It usually takes 25-30 minutes.