Dessert for breakfast? Why not?! This Banana Bread French Toast is a crisp, banana-forward brunch dish perfect for a lazy weekend at home. Fresh, homemade banana bread is dipped into a maple custard before searing to golden perfection.
Going out for a fabulous brunch with friends or family is often the highlight of a weekend. Enjoying conversation and laughter with your close-knit circle is highlighted by the bevy of sweet and savory dishes offered at your local breakfast cafe. The brunch fare and bottomless mimosas fill your stomach as your heart fills with joy.
Now, let’s imagine bringing that brunch event to the comfort of your own home! Host a brunch party with this decadent Banana Bread French Toast, made from moist homemade banana bread and a delightful, maple-forward custard. Simply make the banana bread the night before so that half the recipe is complete by morning!
Origins of Banana Bread
Many of us are familiar with banana bread and it seems as though the recipe has been around forever. In fact, banana bread originated in the early 1930s during The Great Depression. Before then, bananas were sometimes hard to get due to refrigeration not being accessible to many. Bananas would have to be shipped across oceans and continents to get to the United States, making them very rare.
With the birth of modern refrigeration, bananas were popping up in shops across the country. With the start of The Great Depression, households could not spare any overripe foods due to food insecurity. Instead, overripe bananas became a staple in the American diet and people started to get creative. By the early 1930s, banana bread recipes were found in many cookbooks.
Most banana bread recipes look similar, from then to now. All recipes include mashed bananas, a leavened, fat, and flour. The leavener could be baking soda or baking powder. The fat could be butter or buttermilk. You can even use a variety of flours, from gluten-free to almond, to all-purpose. The bottom line is that you can make banana bread with almost any pantry ingredients and it will taste amazing!
Origins of French Toast
French toast is a type of bread pudding, in that it is the bread that is soaked in custard before cooking. There are savory and sweet bread pudding recipes, some dating back as far as 1500 years old! Bread pudding recipes have been enjoyed for breakfast and dessert for so long, that even the Roman Empire consumed it during the 4th century!
Before the 17th century, french toast was called “pain perdu” in French, which translates to “lost bread”, or stale bread. It was a way to use up old, leftover bread, which gets hard and difficult to chew. By soaking it in a flavorful egg custard and cooking it, a delicious new dish is born and households then have less food waste.
The name “French Toast” originated in England during the 17th century. Soon after, it was brought to the Americas and was popularized during the 20th century in New Orleans. It looked a lot like it does today, with an egg batter combined with spirits and fruit, and was served for breakfast.
Making the Perfect Banana Bread French Toast
Oftentimes, french toast is made using day-old bread because harder bread soaks up the custard that much better. It leads to an eggier, fluffier middle and a more textured crust. Because Banana Bread French Toast utilizes homemade banana bread, it likely will not be hard or stale by the time you are ready for breakfast.
This ends up working in your favor, however. The flavors and textures of this dish are amplified when toasted in a hot pan. The sugars in the bread and custard caramelize in the pan, lead to a nutty, nuanced flavor. Just be sure that when you are dipping your slices of bread into the custard, do not soak in the custard for too long. Soaking for a long period of time will cause the banana bread to break apart before cooking.
Also, do not add too much sugar to the custard. The sugar caramelizes well, but it can also burn very easily. The banana bread is already very sweet from both the bananas and brown sugar, so a super-sweet custard is not necessary. Don’t forget, you will also top your French toast with maple syrup, so the custard can be less sweet than you think. One tablespoon of sugar is plenty!
Enjoy a weekend brunch at home with this decadent Banana Bread French Toast, made with homemade brown sugar banana bread and maple custard before topping with maple syrup and whipped cream!
For the Banana Bread:
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 stick butter, softened
- ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2-3 large bananas, mashed (about 2 cups of mashed bananas)
- ½ cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
For the French Toast:
- 1 loaf of cooled banana bread, cut into 1-inch slices
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, plus more for serving
- Pinch of cinnamon
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Prepared whipped cream, optional, for serving
- Prepared raspberry jam, optional, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until incorporated.
- Using a hand mixer, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy in a separate bowl. Incorporate the eggs one at a time and mix until homogenous.
- Next, beat in the vanilla and mashed bananas.
- Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet using a spatula. Also, fold in the walnuts if using. Do not overmix.
- Pour the batter into a buttered high-sided loaf pan. Place over a baking sheet in case of any dripping in the oven.
- Bake in a preheated oven for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature. This can be overnight.
- When ready to make the French toast, cut the loaf into 1-inch slices.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the custard. Mix the eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and heavy whipping cream until well combined.
- Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
- Quickly dip each slice of banana bread into the custard before placing immediately into the hot skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown. You may only fit 2-4 pieces of French toast in the pan at once. Remove and repeat with the rest of the banana bread and custard.
- Serve with additional maple syrup, optional raspberry jam, and optional whipped cream.