Banana bread has always been a classic way to use up your overly ripe bananas. I love a good banana bread myself, but I can never resist a slice of this Vietnamese banana coconut bread pudding. It's called bánh chuối nướng, which translates to banana cake, but I'm calling it a bread pudding because of the way it's made. Nướng means it is baked, differentiating it from a similar steamed cake. This baked bread pudding is made with chunks of bread soaked in a coconut milk custard. Chunks of banana are layered into the bread mix before baking.
Thai bananas for Bánh Chuối Nướng
I like to use Thai bananas for this dish because they hold their shape better in the bread pudding mix and they tend to turn a beautiful purple color once cooked. Thai bananas are shorter and fatter than the regular bananas you'd see at the grocery store, I find them often at Asian grocery stores. If you don't have access to Asian groceries, this cake will still work with regular bananas. You will want to treat them more gently when mixing things around and you might not get the coloring you want once the bread pudding is cooked.
Vietnamese Coconut Banana Bread Pudding (Bánh Chuối Nướng): Step-by-step instructions
Peel the bananas and soak them in rum and sugar overnight. You can either soak them whole like this, split them in half or slice them into coins before soaking. I ended up slicing all of these in half before putting them in the fridge.
Mix coconut milk, whole milk, condensed milk, butter, an egg, salt and vanilla together to form the custard. Add the bananas with all of the liquid that has collected while they were marinating to the custard. Tear your bread up into small one inch chunks and soak them in the custard until they are completely saturated. I recommend using Italian bread. Find a bread that is more hardy than sandwich break but doesn't have a crust that is too rough. You don't want the bread to disintegrate in the custardbut you also don't want it to be too dry and hard.
Grease a loaf pan or an 8 inch round cake pan and begin to layer the bread and banana pieces into the pan. You can either randomly throw in the mixture with banana coins and bread pieces, or carefully layer bread pieces with banana halves, as shown in the photo. There's no rhyme or reason to it; just layer it in a way that you'll get a bit of banana and bread in every bite.
Add a layer of banana on top of the mixture before baking. I chose to lay banana halves over the loaf pan. Be creative with the shape and formation of the bananas.
Let the bread come to room temperature and chill before eating.
Vietnamese Coconut Banana Bread Pudding (Bánh Chuối Nướng)
- 10-15 Thai bananas (about 200-250 g)
- 30 ml rum
- 100 g granulated sugar
- 1 loaf Italian bread or brioche, cut or torn into 1 inch pieces (about 300-350 g)
- 1 13.6 oz can of coconut milk (about 400 ml)
- 100 ml whole milk
- 200 ml sweetened condensed milk
- 50 g butter, melted
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- Peel the bananas. Keep the bananas whole, cut in half lengthwise or cut into coins. Marinate them in sugar and rum for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Mix coconut milk, whole milk, sweetened condensed milk,butter, egg, vanilla and salt together in a large bowl
- Add the bananas with all of their liquid and the bread chunks to the custard mix. Let the mixture sit for 13-20 minutes so the bread can soak up all of the liquid
- Grease a loaf pan or 8 inch cake round and add the bread and banana mixture. You can layer the bread pieces and banana pieces for a better look once the slices are cut
- Arrange banana pieces on top of the bread mixture and bake for 60-70 minutes until the bananas and bread on the surface are a deep golden color. If any pieces start to burn, cover the surface with aluminum foil.
- You can use regular bananas for this but don't let them get too ripe because they will lose all of their shape. Regular bananas may not give you the same purple color once cooked.
- Use a bread that will hold it's shape but isn't too tough to absorb most the liquid