As spring works her way into the East Coast, our days are punctuated with rainy, blustery, dark days. I savor these last wintry days, and hope for the sunshine. These days just beg for warm sweaters, down blankets, and of course comfort food. Simple, familiar, home-cooked food, you can dig out of your pantry without leaving your home. Nothing screams comfort like warm, creamy, velvety soft bread, with a touch of sweet and savory. It will make your home smell divine and warm your soul.
banana bread pudding with dulce de leche
1 loaf rustic Tuscan round bread (any round white will do)
1 ½ cup milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
3 tbs granulated sugar, plus 1 tsp
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 dash bitter almond extract (Swedish/optional)
1tbs melted butter
3 ripe bananas cut on the bias
¼ cup dulce de leche; store bought or homemade, or any caramel sauce you might have
dash of kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8×10 inch pan. Pour caramel on the bottom and a sprinkle of salt. Tear bread into ¾-1 inch cubes. To make custard, whisk together milk, cream, granulated sugar, vanilla, almond extract, and salt. Cut bananas on the bias about ½ inch thick. Put ½ of bread cubes into buttered pan over caramel. Wedge in bananas. Repeat for a second layer. Pour melted butter over top layer of bread. Pour custard mixture over bread and evenly cover until pan is almost full. Let stand for 30 minutes. Sprinkle 1 tsp granulated sugar over the top. Place into oven and bake 40 minutes. Bake until nice golden brown on the top, and bread springs back when tapped lightly.
To make and easy homemade dulce de leche, take one can sweetened condensed milk, punch holes in the top of the can. Place can in a pot of water filled halfway up the can. Boil in the pot until the milk seeps out of the can and is a nice toasty, caramel brown, and thick in texture. Keep refilling the pot with water as necessary. This can take up to 2 hours. Open can and mix. I like mine on the darker side for more depth in flavor. I also add about a 1/2 tsp kosher salt before mixing.
Cook together, toast to each other, and share!