I’ve never been a big fan of bananas. Actually, as a kid, I refused to eat them. Only in the last few years have I started forcing myself to eat them for their goodness and, as it turns out, they’re not so bad. But I still hate anything banana-flavoured, like cakes and muffins. So it would seem odd that I’d voluntarily make a Banana Cream Pudding for myself, and odder still that I’d been craving one ever since I tried one at Cochon in New Orleans at the end of July.
I was hesitant to try the banana dessert, despite insistance from Uncle Scott that is was truly divine. I capitulated and, to my surprise, it was indeed delightful. I’ve been hooked ever since.
This recipe is from the gorgeous and inspiring Milk Bar cookbook, whose recipes come from Milk Bar in New York, a place I can’t wait to visit. It calls for an Oreo cookie base, to make a pie, but I opted to make layers of sponge instead.
Banana Cream Pudding225g ripe bananas (about 2, quite brown and gross and practically unfit for human consumption) About 2 just-ripe, yellow bananas for layering 75g / one-third cup heavy cream 55g / ¼ cup milk 100g / ½ cup sugar 25g / 2 tblsp cornstarch 2g / ½ tsp kosher salt 3 egg yolks 2 gelatin sheets 40g / 3 tblsp butter, room temperature 25 drops yellow food colouring (optional – I omitted this part) 160g / ¾ cup heavy cream 1 tblsp sugar Sponge cake: 100g / ½ cup sugar 100g / 6 tblsp butter, softened 2 eggs 100g / ¾ cup self-raising flour ½ tsp baking powder 1 tblsp milk
1. Roughly chop the bananas. Combine them with the first amount of cream and milk in a blender and whizz til smooth.
2. Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt and yolks and blend until everything has been incorporated. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Rinse out the blender.
3. Over a medium-low heat, whisk the banana mixure in the saucepan. It will thicken as it heats. Bring to a boil then whisk vigorously for 2mins to cook out the starch. The mixture will be very thick and glue-like. Put it back in the blender.
5. Bloom the gelatin: place the gelatin sheets in a small bowl of cold water and allow to steep for about 2 mins. It should be completely soft but you should still be able to pick it up with your fingers and squeeze it out. If it falls apart, it has been bloomed too long and you’ll need to start over.
6. Add the squeezed-out gelatin blob to the mixture in the blender. Add the butter and blend until everything is nice and smooth. Now’s the time to add the food colouring if you like.
7. Transfer the mixture into a plastic container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to one hour, until it is fully chilled.
8. To make the sponge cake: preheat the oven to 190 C / 375 F. Grease one 8″ square cake tin. Blend the sugar and softened butter together ’til creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs, whisk, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whisk in the milk then add the flour and baking powder and whisk to form a firm batter. Pour the batter into the cake tin and bake for about 20 mins or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. The cake should be spongey and spring back up when pressed. Turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Once cool, cut the cake in half, horizontally, to make for thinner layers.
9. Whisk the second amount of cream with the sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. You can fold this into the banana cream mixture or keep them as separate layers once you start to build the pudding – totally your call. I mixed it in this time but I think I’d keep it separate next time.
10. To build the pudding: I used a clear glass bowl with a diameter of 7″. It would be cool to use a vessel that didn’t get wider at the mouth. To this end, using some small clear glass cups would be ideal, especially as everyone would get their own little pudding. Throw down some rounds of banana. Top with a dollop of banana pudding mixture (followed by some cream if you’re keeping them separate) and then a layer of sponge – no need to be neat! Repeat this step until you reach the top of the glass bowl. Top with the last bits of banana and grate some chocolate over or dust with icing sugar.