Serves: Serves 8 to 10
- 1 loaf (1 to 1½ pounds) challah, brioche, or other rich, dense bread
- 2 ripe bananas
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup (4¼ ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (16 ounces) heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups (16 ounces) whole milk
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup (8 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 tablespoon banana liqueur (or substitute additional rum)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat the cake pan with butter, oil, or high-heat canola oil spray.
Toast the bread: Use the serrated knife to cut away the crust from all sides of the bread. If you are using challah, which is braided, just do the best you can and don't worry about the bits of crust in the crevices of the braid. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on the baking sheet and toast in the oven for 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Measure out 6 cups of bread cubes and place them in the cake pan. Transfer the remaining bread cubes to a resealable plastic bag and set aside (or freeze) for another use. Leave the oven on.
Make the custard: Peel the bananas and break or cut them into chunks. Place in the bowl of the food processor and process, scraping down the bowl once or twice with the spatula, until they are pureed and very smooth. In the medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and granulated sugar until well blended. Add the banana puree and vanilla and whisk well. Add the cream and milk and whisk until well blended.
Soak the bread cubes: Pour the custard over the bread cubes in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and press down gently so that all the bread cubes are soaked with the custard. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the custard. Every few minutes, press down gently again so the bread cubes on top are covered with custard.
Bake the bread pudding: Remove the plastic wrap and bake the pudding for 45 to 60 minutes, until the top is nicely browned and the center is set. To check, use a spoon to press down firmly in the center of the pan. The pudding is done when the center feels firm and no loose custard bubbles up around the spoon. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.
Make the sauce: Melt the butter in the large saucepan over low heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and raise the heat to medium. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently. Cook for 2 minutes at a boil, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat and—away from the flame—add the rum, banana liqueur, and vanilla. Return to the heat and boil for 1 minute, whisking. Use the sauce while warm.
Serve the bread pudding warm, cut into squares, and topped with enough warm sauce to drip down the sides and pool on each plate. Set a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of each serving.
Storing: The cooled bread pudding can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 325°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until heated through.