Banana pudding is a type of dessert that is made of layers of sweet vanilla-flavored custard, cookies, and slices of fresh bananas. It is placed in a dish and served or topped with meringue or whipped cream. It looks similar to an English trifle that is assembled in layers and includes custard, sponge cake, fruit, and whipped cream.
You can prepare banana pudding via two methods, which are baked and refrigerated. There are also lots of different recipes out there that have been adapted using vanilla instead of a true custard. Banana pudding is also associated with Southern American cuisine, but it can be found around the country. If you want to learn more about this sweet dessert, read on as we’re giving you more information about banana pudding.
The History of Banana Pudding in America
Before the Civil War, the banana pudding did not exist in America. It was because bananas were not common in the states back in those times. There were very few bananas that made it to America in the mid-1800s. It was usually from places like the West Indies, and those bananas were treated as rare and exotic fruits that were only enjoyed by rich people.
Later in that century, steamship travel was able to boost trade, and it made bananas a more staple item. When 1874 came, bananas were found almost everywhere and could be purchased by all people easily. Millions of bananas were imported to the United States. By the end of the 19th century, people began to incorporate it into different dishes, including banana pudding.
Magazines and newspapers referenced banana pudding in the late 19th century. But the recipes before did not follow the creamy and cookie-encrusted banana pudding versions that we are familiar with today. There was a recipe from 1888 called layering sponge cake and bananas and then pouring custard over them. Their final topping was whipped cream. In that recipe, you can see the modern banana pudding being created.
Vanilla wafers and cookers were not a popular ingredient of banana pudding until the 20th century. In the 1920s, cookbooks and magazines started to feature banana pudding recipes that were not baked and included vanilla wafers. The Nilla Wafer by Nabisco jumped on the bandwagon and marketed it as the perfect ingredient in banana pudding. They even include banana pudding recipes on the boxes.
From that time onwards, banana pudding became a popular dessert across the United States, making it an icon of southern desserts.
Banana Pudding Ingredients
Traditionally, banana, vanilla custard, vanilla wafers, or ladyfinger biscuits are used in making banana pudding. If you want to make a fresh custard, you will need egg yolk, sugar, and milk. Then, meringue or whipped cream is used as a topping. However, some of these ingredients are no longer used by many home cooks, as there are newer recipes that are quite easier to make but still taste delicious.
If you are thinking about making a banana pudding for dessert, here’s a banana pudding recipe that you can follow:
- ¾ cup of sugar
- ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 3 cups of 2% milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 8 ounces of vanilla wafers, divided (around 60 cookies)
- 4 large ripe bananas (cut into ¼-inch slices)
- Get a large saucepan. Mix the sugar, flour, and salt in it. After that, whish in the milk. Cook the mixture and stir it over medium heat until it thickens and becomes bubbly. Reduce the heat to low and cook it for 2 more minutes by stirring continuously. Then, remove it from heat.
- Get a small bowl and whisk the eggs. Mix a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs, then pour them all into the pan while constantly whisking. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and let it cook for 2 more minutes. After that, remove the pan from heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Let it cool for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Get an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Layer half of the vanilla wafers, half of the banana slices, and half of the pudding. Repeat the layers.
- Press a plastic wrap onto the surface of the pudding. Place it in the refrigerator for around 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, remove the plastic wrap, crush the remaining wafers, and sprinkle them on top of the pudding. Serve and enjoy!
Tips About Banana Pudding
Here are a few tips that we can give about banana pudding:
- Keep it refrigerated.
Banana puddings can last up to 4 days when stored covered in the refrigerator.
- Cook the hot mixture thoroughly to prevent a runny banana pudding.
Some people end up with a runny banana pudding. To prevent this from happening, after you add the eggs into the hot mixture, you need to allow it to reach at least 155°F for them to cook thoroughly. Try to bring it to a gentle boil to ensure that you reach the target temperature. Also, refrigerating for 4 hours or longer will help thicken and solidify the pudding.
- Brush some lemon juice or other citrus onto the sliced bananas to prevent them from turning brown.
Citrus acid can help in slowing down the browning process in sliced bananas.
- Serve it cold.
The best way to serve banana pudding is cold, with crushed vanilla wafers on top. You can slice it and serve it into individual cups if you want a fancier presentation.
Banana pudding is indeed a very popular and delicious dessert. It is actually a versatile treat to make as you can create it however you want. You can include additional ingredients or use alternative ingredients to make it more delicious and flavorful. No wonder it has become a popular dessert in the United States. We hope this helped you learn more about banana pudding.