Banana pudding is quintessential southern comfort food. Nilla wafers, layers of bananas, and a thick custard topped with a toasty meringue. It’s old-fashioned goodness, best served in little mason jars. This is totally your grandmother’s banana pudding, except, you know, cooked using stored solar thermal energy.
The Sun Bucket started at 329 C (624 °F).
Pudding is easy to make from scratch as long as you don’t mind giving your forearms a workout. 4 egg yolks, 3/4 C. sugar, 4 C. of milk, and 1/3 C. of cornstarch were whisked together atop the Sun Bucket. After 12 minutes of constant stirring, the custard was bubbling. I moved the pot slightly off-center (to reduce the heat by decreasing the contact area of the pot and cooking surface) and let it go for one more minute.
The pot of custard was removed from the Sun Bucket and 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 t. of vanilla and a pinch of salt were whisked in. The custard was set aside while the meringue was whipped together.
My small pot was put on the Sun Bucket holding 1 1/2 C. of water. I set the bowl from my electric stand mixer on top of the pot, which temporarily served as a lid to get the water simmering quickly. 4 egg whites, 1/2 C. of sugar, and 1/4 t. of cream of tartar were whisked together in the mixing bowl. This must be continuously mixed until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm to the touch. This took four minutes. The mixing bowl was moved to the stand mixer, where the egg whites were whipped into firm, glossy peaks.
Meanwhile, a 13×9 baking pan was lined with Nilla wafers. 4 sliced bananas were layered on top of the cookies. The custard was poured over the bananas and wafers, and then the meringue was carefully spread on top. I popped the dish under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the meringue.
The pudding is best if you let it sit for a few minutes to set, but it is delicious, albeit runny, if you lack self-control and eat it immediately.
Pinterest may be overrun with mason jar DIY hacks, but something as old and classic as banana pudding deserves a sweet little jelly jar. Just the way Grandma would do it.
The Sun Bucket was actively used for 26 minutes and was used to prepare approximately 1.5 kg of pudding with a caloric count of 2050 calories. These totals do not include the Nilla wafers nor the bananas, as they were not cooked.