Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast

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Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French ToastThe smell of maple syrup, bananas, and bread baking is almost as good as the way the French toast tastes.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

Hawaiian Bread is one of my favorite breads. Lightly sweetened and so light and soft.

And I can now definitively say, it makes stellar French toast.

My grandma used to buy Hawaiian bread and I remember being a kid and pulling off hunks from the round loaves and enjoying the extreme fluffiness. No butter, no jelly, just super soft bread. I used to squish it into bread marbles and toss my marbles into the air and try to catch them in my mouth. I wasn’t ever very successful but the three-second rule applied.

Some people suggest making French toast or bread pudding with stale or at least day-old bread, but I’m not so sure. I dislike anything that’s hard, dry, or tough and starting with something dried out and old doesn’t give me warm and fuzzy feelings. The exception is for overnight breakfast bakes, when using a firmer bread is advantageous so it stands up to an all night marinating session.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

For this French toast, I started out with a soft, fresh 0ne-pound round of King’s Hawaiian Original Sweet Round Bread. I diced it into chunky cubes, one to two inches each. You could tear if that’s faster for you. The soft, tender bread is like a little sponge, perfect for soaking up the sweet, buttery marinade.

To make the marinade, melt one stick of butter, add two eggs, milk, maple syrup, sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, optional salt, and whisk. I love recipes where you just pile everything into a bowl and whisk it up quickly, and this is that kind. I was happy to keep the egg count to only two. Two eggs in an entire batch of French Toast is pretty impressive and compared to bread pudding, or other baked French toast recipes I’ve seen, some easily approach a half dozen or more.

The milk can be regular, coconut, cashew, almond, soy; or half-and-half or cream if you want to splurge. If you don’t keep certain spices on hand, or would prefer pumpkin pie spice, more cloves or ginger (allspice has traces), feel free to mix and match. Going on the heavier-handed side with the spices is a good idea because this is a pound of neutral-flavored bread, and it needs to be properly spiced so the French toast isn’t bland.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

After whisking together the batter mixture, add the sliced bread and diced banana pieces. I diced two medium, ripe bananas into small pieces and folded them in while folding in the bread. At this time, feel free to fold in optional ingredients like raisins, coconut flakes, blueberries (fresh or frozen), or another favorite fruit like diced apples, peaches, or mango.

Toss the bread and bananas gently to coat them evenly before transferring the saucy mixture into a foil-lined prepared pan. It’s amazing that in just a matter of minutes, the bread soaks up all that marinade. It’s very thirsty.

Lightly smooth and press the mixture down into the pan. I don’t compact it (that’s bread pudding) and keep it looser, like pull-apart French toast. However, make sure not to leave any bread corners or pieces jutting up because they’ll be prone to burning.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

You can make this recipe as a make-ahead/overnight option and place the assembled pan in the refrigerator overnight. However, assembly comes together in literally 5 minutes. If you’re doing it as a make-ahead option, use a crusty, heartier bread that won’t disintegrate overnight, like a French baguette.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and set. Because the recipe begins using cooked bread and all you’re doing is baking in those comforting flavors, don’t overbake. It’ill firm up as it cools and I prefer to preserve the Hawaiian bread softness. Baking times will vary based on the absorbancy of your bread, oven variance, and personal preference. Making sure it’s set and not sloppy in the middle of the pan is the goal.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

I sliced the French toast into 9 very generous pieces, or just scoop it out with a spoon. I served it with slightly warmed maple syrup and Vanilla Maple Butter, which is heavenly.So many people thought it was orange juice in my last post about it so I didn’t showcase it here in the photos, but it’s highly recommended. I love syrup, and sauces of any kind, and although there’s some baked into it, a little extra on top never hurt.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

I am not normally much of a breakfast person. Okay, let’s rephrase; I’m not a breakfast in the morning person, but breakfast-for-dinner is great. I served this as brinner (breakfast-for-dinner), along with eggs for Scott and Skylar, and it was met with rave reviews. I sprinkled a little salt on the eggs and on the French toast. That hint of salt, contrasted with the sweet of the maple and the bananas, was the perfect salty-and-sweet vibe. There’s a reason salty bacon, sausage and eggs are served with sweet pancakes and French toast. The combo works.

While baking, the sugars in the marinade caramelized around the edges and on the sides of the bread, adding both flavor and texture. There’s a softly-crusted exterior, while the soft, fluffy Hawaiian bread interior is retained. The maple flavor intensified, and the cinnamon and spices, not only flavor the bread, but perfumed the house while it baked. There is nothing quite like luscious smell of maple syrup, cinnamon, bananas, and bread baking. It’s the holy grail of Good House Smells.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

The sweetness of the bananas intensified while baking and their texture morphed into little banana nuggets with much more texture and chewiness. Nothing like what happens to bananas in banana bread where they are soft and mushy.The bananas here were almost like Dehydrated Bananas and remind me of what happens to bananas that are laid to bake on the top of bread, like in this Strawberry Banana Bread or Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

The leftover French toast squares can be kept in an airtight container for up to 5 days, like you’d store muffins, banana bread, or coffee cake. After cooling, I was pleasantly surprised how it turned more bar-like rather than a messy casserole, making it easy to wrap up like a muffin, and toss into lunch pails. The sticky factor diminished as the days passed and the sauciness soaked in. I’m sure it would freeze well, wrapped individually in plasticwrap, like pancakes and loaves of bread freeze well. It would sure beat a frozen Pop-Tart.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

Although it’s filling, it’s not as heavy as you’d imagine, thanks to the lightness of the Hawaiian bread. And it sure is comforting and satisfying.

Please pass the syrup.

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast averiecooks.com

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5 from 2 votes

Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast

By Averie Sunshine
Assembly takes just 5 minutes, but French toast can be prepared as a make-ahead/overnight recipe if desired. Hawaiian Bread is so light, soft, and fluffy, and is the perfect sponge to soak up a sweet, buttery marinade. The marinade contains brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and spices, and gently and warmly flavors the bread and the diced banana bits. While baking, the bread caramelizes, and develops a slightly crusted exterior, yet retains a soft, tender interior. The bananas turn extra chewy and their flavor intensifies and takes on hints of maple. The smell of maple syrup, bananas, and bread baking is almost as good as the way the French toast tastes.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9
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Ingredients  

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup milk or cream, regular, soy, almond, cashew, etc.
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • cup maple syrup - heaping
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
  • optionally add: about 1/2 cup raisins, blueberries (fresh or frozen), diced apples, peaches, or mangoes; coconut flakes
  • 1 pound Hawaiian Bread, diced in 1 1/2- to 2-inch pieces, see substitutions below
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, diced small (about 1 1/2 cups loosely measured banana bits)

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute (or use browned butter. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't curdle the milk or scramble the eggs.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the butter, except for the bread and bananas, and whisk until smooth and combined. Add the bread cubes, bananas, and toss gently to coat.
  • Transfer mixture to baking pan, pressing it down just slightly with a spatula to even and smooth it, but I leave it fairly loosely piled (unlike bread pudding which is packed down). Push down any bread corners or sides that are jutting up so they don't burn. Scrape out any marinade in the bottom of the bowl and pour that over the bread.
  • Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and browned, and the marinade has dried out some, taking care not to overbake as you want this moist. The coating does not have to be bone dry on all pieces. Serve immediately by slicing into pieces (I made 9 generous squares) or scoop with a serving spoon.
  • Serve with Vanilla Maple Butter, warm maple syrup, a dusting of confectioners' sugar, a sprinkle of salt (my husband loved the salty-and-sweet) or plain. Store extra French Toast in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, reheating gently in the microwave prior to serving with a drizzle of syrup; or freeze for up to 2 months. French toast becomes less sticky as the days pass, making it easy to wrap up like muffin for a portable snack.
  • If making this as a make-ahead/overnight option, assemble, cover pan with foil, and refrigerate for up to 16 hours before baking. Remove foil, and bake as directed, possibly extending baking time past what's suggest (30 to 35 minutes) since pan and contents are starting out cold from the fridge.

Notes

You can use Challah bread as a Hawaiian bread Substitute
If making this as an overnight/make-ahead option, use French bread, a French Baguette, or a crusty and hearty bread that can stand up to overnight soaking without disintegrating

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 356kcal, Carbohydrates: 54g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 116mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 44g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Challah – I cannot say enough good things about this bread. It’s so easy to make, it’s no-knead, you can make it up to 1 week in advance, baking off only what you need at any time. It turns out so soft, fluffy, light, and almost croissant-like. Highly recommended

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Do you like Hawaiian Bread? French Toast? Banana Bread?

Feel free to share your favorite recipe links.

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

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Comments

  1. Hi Averie,

    I’m trying this delicious-looking recipe for a big brunch this weekend and wondering how many rolls are 1 pound. Thanks for the great ideas!

    1. It really depends on the size of the roll. Just look at the packaging when you buy them and look for 1 pound :)

  2. I can’t wait to try this when my father visits. Anything with Hawaiian bread, vanilla, maple syrup, and butter has to be delicious.

  3. I made this for my husband and myself this morning and it was delicious. I used home made Hawaiian bread and a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar instead of the granulated sugar. Loved the addition of bananas. Very easy to put together, will definitely be preparing this French toast again! Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks for LKM you tried it, Julie, and that you both loved it and will make it again! I am impressed you used homemade Hawaiian Bread! It’s on my bucket list of recipes to tackle and have read a few online and can’t decide which to use. If you have a particular recipe you use, I’d love to hear about it! Thanks again for trying this recipe!

      1. Hey Averie, it was my first time making the Hawaiian bread. Like you, I found several different recipes online. The one I tried was pretty simple, some recipes include instant potato flakes which would be interesting. Good luck! And if you find a keeper, please post!

  4. Love, love, LOVE me some hawaiian bread. And this baked french toast is just what I need before going to work!

  5. I just had a tooth pulled so looking at this is torture! (I can’t have solid foods for another day or so.) Boy would I love to have this for my first meal. :D

    P.S. I just pre-ordered your cookbook! xo

    1. Thanks for the preorder and ouch!! on that tooth! I hope you have a good weekend and heal up fast!

  6. I’ve never had Hawaiian bread but I am never one to turn down french toast! I love the idea of overnight breakfasts. I’m not a big breakfast person but mostly because I hate getting up and cooking first thing. It just throws off my morning schedule, especially if I want to get some exercise in first! Looks delicious!

    1. And trust me, this is a weekend thing for us. On school/weekday mornings with a family to get out the door, this is soooo far off the radar screen. Unless we’re talking reheating the leftovers :)

  7. Oh my word. French toast is totally my fave, taking precedence over pancakes and waffles any day. I love it! And I like mine super thick and totally smothered in butter and syrup… or looking identical to this! I love that you paired maple and banana with the Hawaiian bread — so tropical and it sounds so sweet and delicious. And I’m also stupid-jealous that you have those cute little syrup shot pourers–haha they’re so cute!!

    1. cute little syrup shot pourers = shot glasses I found at the thrift store for I think 25 cents or 50 cents each!

  8. We’d always have Hawaiian bread with spinach dip at family get-togethers when I was a kid. That was definitely my favorite appetizer. :) Using Hawaiian bread for French toast sounds absolutely heavenly!

    1. Hawaiian bread with spinach dip sounds awesome – I love spin dip and spin/artichoke dip, HUGELY! My fave dips of all time!

  9. Hawaiian bread french toast … I’m trying to process it… OH.MY.GAH!! That’s brilliant, Averie! I love it! And then there’s those bananas and maple syrup… goodness, I’m about to drool.

  10. Holy cow that looks amazing!!! I love the unique idea of the hawaiian bread to spice things up. Nice recipe.

  11. I’m definitely a proponent of Hawaiian bread French toasts–I’m so glad we agree! I had *the* best French toast in Hawaii made with Hawaiian sweet bread, and I think that’s how it all should be made from now on ;) thanks for sharing, Averie!

  12. Averie, this looks decadent! I have never heard of Hawaiian bread before but it sounds delicious. Coincidentally, I’m going to Hawaii in about 6 weeks for a much-needed holiday and escape from our cold winter. Dumb question, but do they serve Hawaiian bread in Hawaii?!

    1. They sure do serve it there! Ironically a friend of mine who lived there (and commented earlier on this post) said she preferred the King’s Hawaiian which is the brand I linked/used in this post compared to the ‘local’ brands. So you may not even need to go to Hawaii for the bread :) But for all other reasons, I wish I was going to Hawaii. have fun!!!

  13. This looks like some serious comfort food! I love that Hawaiian bread and it’s sweetness must be perfect for this french toast!

  14. I have always had a serious obsession with Hawaiian bread–the soft, fluffy, sweet rolls….uuuuggghhhh and then you made an even more delicious French toast with it??? You are so creative Averie!

  15. One thing I have never made and would love to is baked french toast. My family is not a bread lover like me, nor do they like breakfast, so I’m out! But I want to try your recipe, so I think this weekend, I’m going to try to modify it down to one serving and make it just for me! It sounds amazing and your pictures are just beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Thanks for the compliments and you can make as the full batch, freeze the leftover squares, and heat them up in the micro like you’d heat up any other frozen bread…that’s what I would do. Pre-made breakfasts on ice for those crazy mornings when you need a timesaver!

  16. Averie I have to hand it to you, you’ve got the whole foodporn thing down. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, you come in with an extra punch. Those chunks of maple banana are killer!

    1. Well thank you! I take that as a high compliment! It’s realllllllly hard to try to make french toast look new and not played out; so I thought long and hard about what to do to this one :)

  17. I love Hawaiian bread. It’s one of my favorites. I just finished eating a roll, in fact. What a great french toast recipe!

  18. What a fun twist on french toast to use the Hawaiian rolls! We love eating them plain, but this looks way better to me!!! Gotta love brinner meals!!!

  19. This looks incredible! Almost like a combination of french toast and bread pudding. I’d be afraid that I’d eat all of it in one sitting!

  20. that looks seriously incredible. So gooey and comforting! I’m all about breakfast for dinner. I had eggs tonight and waffles are on the menu for tomorrow night!

  21. The yellow plates make this dish so much more festive and fun for this time of year! Winter blues going on. Where is spring?!

    1. I found them at the thrift store awhile back and knew they’d be right for something…and this was that something!

  22. I LOVE Hawiian bread Averie. I haven’t had it in SO long though. I remember always having hawaiian bread rolls with pineapple and ham on Easter Sunday. I feel sort of silly not ever thinking to make french toast with it! I mean why not? The bread is the PERFECT sponge for it all. And the flavors you chose today are incredible. Maple and banana together. I usually put sliced bananas on top of my waffles/pancakes/french toast anyway! I feel like I can already smell this stuff baking. It’s like banana bread and maple trees and french toast all at once. I love the yellow plate!

    1. I wound up with a ton of it and needed to get creative to use it up…so this…was born! And it’s the best little sponge ever! Soft but not soggy. We loved it! banana bread and maple trees and french toast all at once <-- YES I found the yellow plates at the thrift store awhile back and knew they’d be right for something…and this was that something!

  23. Hawaiian bread, French toast: there’s quite a bit of geography in this recipe! I would have it with a little Grand Marnier (not for breakfast, though) However, when I lived in Europe, it was perfectly OK to have coffee with brandy or Grand Marnier at breakfast, no one cared… :).
    My son would pile a mount of ice cream on this toast: he is in ice cream stage now. :)

    1. perfectly OK to have coffee with brandy or Grand Marnier at breakfast = sounds like Aruba, a Dutch island. Between the Euro influence, the South Americans, and the locals, that is perfectly normal there too! :)

  24. This sounds so great Averie. I buy the Hawaiian sweet rolls every week. My kids like them in lunches or breakfast with honey. They will flip over this french toast!!

  25. omg, this is seriously GENIUS!! I cannot even tell you how big of an fan of this I am right now! Hawaiian bread and bananas! A dream I never even knew I had just came true. Thank you.

  26. Oh my lord.
    I didn’t have Hawaiian bread until I was in college, but after that I was hooked! And the fact that you made it into a monkey bread/bread pudding/French toast bake spectacular…wowza!

  27. Love Hawaiian Bread! Have it on the list to make from scratch :) Pinning to make for brunch over the weekend!

    1. Actually it’s on my from-scratch list, too! And then I got this and HAD to make French toast with it. I have to say when I make from-scratch I will NOT be marinating it. I will be devouring every last piece, as-is. Thanks for the pin!

  28. Hey Averie! I have never had Hawaiian bread, but it seems pretty similar to challah bread, which I buy weekly for the kids. They love a slice topped with Nutella after school. You have been posting some amazing make-ahead breakfast ideas. I can’t wait for our weekends to slow down so I can make some of these. xoxo, Jackie

    1. What I wouldn’t give to be 10 yrs old, coming home from school eating white bread with Nutella and not having a care in the world…your comment reminds me of being a kid after school. Hug your kiddos for me :)

  29. Surprisingly, that King’s bread was the best of all the Hawaiian bread I tried in Hawaii! Usually, when you go to the place that something that comes from, you find a better brand, but not so with Kings. All the native Hawaiians ate that same brand.

    I used to make bread marbles ALL THE TIME. With Wonder bread. Loved those!!

  30. I ADORE Hawaiin bread. This might sound odd, but it has been my family’s choice for our leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches since I was little. I absolutely must try this as French toast. Loving all the fruit you added too.

    1. Not odd at all and my grandma used to serve leftover turkey on them too! And H.B. was her go-to for little rolls for sandwiches. She’d pack car snacks and sandwiches anytime we’d be going more than about 4 miles from home :)

  31. For some reason. Hawaiin bread and rolls are always free with the purchase of something else at my grocery store, so I end up with a lot of it. I usually use it for grilled cheese (crazy amazing) but now I have another tasty use! I’ve been super obsessed with bananas lately, so perfect perfect.

    1. …Hawaiin bread and rolls are always free with the purchase of something else at my grocery store <--- NICE And I bet it would make a fabulous grilled cheese!

  32. i LOVE hawaiian bread but it is super hard to find around here! Hmm perhaps Ill just have to make it because this baked french toast needs to happen in my life!

    1. Actually it’s on my from-scratch list, too! And then I got this and HAD to make French toast with it. I have to say when I make from-scratch I will NOT be marinating it. I will be devouring every last piece, as-is :)

  33. I love using delicious sweet breads and making baked french toast or bread pudding. It adds so much pizazz to the dish and adds oomph to all of the levels of flavor. This Hawaiian Bread french toast sounds out of this world. And vanilla maple butter? Wow. This is definitely the breakfast of champions.

  34. Wow, this looks amazing! I love Hawaiian bread. I can only imagine how much I would love it in a baked French toast!

  35. Ooooh, I love that you used Hawaiian bread for your bread pudding! I grew up eating Hawaiian bread and get excited whenever I see recipes that use it. I’m definitely going to be giving this a try… my family will love it!

  36. I can’t decide which I want more, the Hawaiian Bread and Maple Banana Baked French Toast (which looks amazing) or all of the ‘related recipes’ that came after it. I think I need them all!

  37. Jason LOVES those Hawaiian rolls/bread. He’d probably lick the computer screen if he saw this post ;-)

  38. To answer those 3 questions–Yes, yes and heck yes!! I get a little 4pc pkg of the Hawaiian rolls every now and then…my husband loves them for their squishiness and sweetness. The big round loaves usually show up at parties with the middle hollowed out and filled with some type of dip. I love the idea of using it for French toast–it also definitely reminds me of bread pudding. All the flavors…banana, maple, vanilla and spices all go so well together!

    1. I almost made dip with it but it was a huge 1 lb round and I didn’t need quite that much dip for our little family all at once but yes, I love those for parties. And a 4-pc rolls. I need to look for those. That’s more realistic in general for us! :)

  39. King’s Hawaiian bread is the best. I love how it’s sweet, fluffy and light all at the same time. I never thought of using it to make french toast – what a great idea!

  40. This is going to be pinned for company right away! It looks impressive and sounds not so hard to make. I can’t wait to invite someone over now!

    1. It seriously is a 5 minute-whisk together marinade & throw it in a pan & bake. It’s TOO easy to make :)

  41. I have been a on huge bread baking kick lately and breakfast bakes like these are my FAVORITE way to use up bits of pieces of each type of loaf.

    This version looks absolutely delicious.

  42. I am not actually familiar with Hawaiian bread but I love the idea of bakes french toast! Frying something for breakfast was never my thing.

    1. Not only do you have to babysit the traditional french toast on the stovetop, flipping it; but it stinks up your house for much longer from the grease!

  43. This is coming at a perfect moment. My daughters are home all week for school vacation. I will actually have the time to spend on a breakfast treat like this. From the looks of these beautiful photographs, I am sure they will want to thank you personally for sharing it!

  44. This looks like such a decadent and delicious breakfast! I love Hawaiian bread!! I can eat an embarrassing amount of those sweet rolls! The marinade on this sounds TO DIE FOR!

  45. This looks so great – bookmarking for the future. I am also a ‘just eat plain’ person when it comes to this kind of bread XD

  46. Oh, the post brought back memories!! I love Hawaiian bread as a kid . . . I had completely forgotten about it. My mom used to make the best sandwiches from it, and we thought it was such a treat! This dish looks sinfully good, Averie!