Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Banana Pudding



Many years ago, the DH and I ate at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House in Savannah, Georgia, an historic southern restaurant, where diners eat at large round tables, family style, during the one seating for lunch. The table was laden with platters of delicious fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collards, rutabaga and too many other sides to count.  Dessert was banana pudding. I bought the cookbook, signed by Mrs. Wilkes herself, and was promptly disappointed -- the banana pudding used packaged vanilla pudding as the base.  (I am not a fan of boxed anything, especially pudding which is so easy to make from scratch.)

When banana pudding made its debut in about 1902, it featured real pudding -- packaged pudding wasn't on the grocery store shelves yet.  The boxed stuff was substituted for convenience, and some folks argue that true southern banana pudding uses prepackaged pudding mix.  Whatever.  There are few tastes as delightful as homemade custard. The c. 1950 vintage recipe I found features the real deal.

Banana pudding is simply custard poured over alternate layers of bananas and wafers, topped by meringue. The custard takes on the banana flavor and the wafers soften.  This is a dessert whose sum is way more than its parts.

 First order of business is to get a box of Nilla wafers and a bunch of bananas.


Next, make the pudding.


It's a little unclear how long to cook it -- "cook until thick like custard" simply wasn't descriptive enough and if I make it again, I'd cook it a bit longer.  One test is to see if the mixture "stays put" when you run your finger against the spoon.


Butter a casserole dish, and layer bananas and wafers alternately.  I had friends coming over for brunch, and was rushed, I neglected to photograph the layers beyond the bottom one.


Pour the pudding over the layers and then spoon the meringue on top.  Bake until the topping is golden brown.


Scoop out the dessert into serving bowls.  You might garnish with a Nilla wafer.


Production notes: This recipe uses a very small amount of wafers -- feel free to increase that.



The remains of the day.


7 comments:

  1. YUM OH! These time honored desserts are always wonderful. I come here often to read about what you are cooking and always enjoy my stay. I have saved many made here for our future meals. Now that is it just the two of us for most meals, it takes more time to get through those recipes......Melynda@OurSundayCafe.

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    1. Thanks, Melynda. I know what you mean -- so many recipes, so little time!

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  2. Looks delicious and brings many possible "banana" variations to this theme, to mind... but shouldn't the pudding be cooled in the refrigerator before adding the meringue?

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    1. I didn't, and it worked fine but I suppose one could do that. However, the pudding part may get too cold and not bake properly in the relatively short amount of time required for the meringue to brown. One thing I did be sure to do (as must be done for meringue pie) is to make sure the meringue touched the edges of the casserole, i.e., there was no gap nor was any pudding exposed.

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  3. At first when I saw "banana pudding" I thought, meh, I'm gonna skip this recipe. Then I decided to read it anyway and while doing so, suddenly remembered that when I was a little girl, my mom used to make banana pudding with fresh banana slices and that it was actually pretty good. How could I have forgotten that???
    So, thank you for posting this (and all your other wonderful old recipes). I will definitely be making this.

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  4. At first when I saw this recipe I thought, meh, doesn't sound too interesting, think I'll skip this one. But me being me, I had to read it through anyway, and I'm so glad I did. I suddenly remembered that long ago, when I was a little girl, my mom used to make us banana pudding with fresh banana slices in it, and it was really good. I'm sure it is even better with Nilla wafers and meringue!
    Thanks so much for this and all the other great old recipes you post. Your blog makes me feel like I've "come home." The recipes you post here are what I grew up eating and how I still try to cook for my own family now.

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    1. Thanks so much for writing, Caroline! The recipes I make are what I *wish* I grew up eating!! My mother is lovely, but a baker she is not (unless you count Duncan Hines cake mixes)!

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