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Southern Baked Banana Pudding

I just got back from South Carolina after a month. I truly enjoyed my time down there, but I was ready to come back to New Castle. As my son said, “It’s good to miss home.” I was on the water and was in constant touch with Dorothy Colburn to help me identify different species of egrets, cranes, herons and mockingbirds, which was lovely. But I brought a lot back with me, culinarily and otherwise, and this is a fun memory.

Parker’s Kitchen, ubiquitous down South, is like our Wawa, but a cut above, frankly. And banana pudding is featured there and in every store and restaurant I visited, even Rodney Scott’s BBQ. Strange to think of this in a gas station/convenience store, but it’s like our soft pretzel, I suppose.

Most places  take short cuts, using boxed pudding mix and whipped cream instead of meringue, but they all originated from a traditional Southern banana pudding recipe:


INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 pinch salt

3 large eggs, separated (you’ll need whites later for meringue)

3 cups milk

1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

1 (11-ounce) box of Nilla wafers, approximately 45 wafers

6  bananas

3 egg whites, reserved from above*

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


METHOD

Preheat oven to 325. Chill the bowl and beaters for making the meringue.

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large, heavy saucepan.

Lightly beat egg yolks and combine with milk in a large bowl or measuring cup.

Pour the egg and milk mixture into dry ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring constantly, until ingredients are thickened and smooth. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in vanilla.

To layer your banana pudding, begin by placing 1/3 of the vanilla wafers on the bottom of a 2 quart oven-safe glass bowl or baking dish.

Slice bananas and place 1/3 on top of wafers.

Pour one-third of custard over wafers and bananas.

Repeat layering process two more times until all wafers, bananas, and custard have been used, ending with a final layer of the wafers and whatever crumbs are left in the bottom of the bag.

Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer set at high speed.

Allow egg whites to foam, and then gradually add sugar one tablespoon at a time.

* Some people use a bit of cream of tarter to stabilize the meringue, but I have never found it necessary.

Continue whipping until sugar is well-dissolved. Add vanilla once stiff peaks have formed and whip until well-combined.

Spread the meringue over banana pudding, making sure to spread to the edges of the dish, touching the glass edge. If not, it will shrink to the center..

Bake for about 25 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.

Don’t serve it hot - it will be too runny. Let it set and serve it at room temperature or cold.

Spoon it into bowls - it won’t be pretty when you do, but it’s worth it.

As is coming home to family and friends you love so much.



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