Disney’s Kona Cafe Tonga Toast (Banana-Stuffed French Toast)

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Since its 1971 launch at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Tonga Toast–a cinnamon-sugared chunk of deep-fried, banana-stuffed breakfast bliss–has never left its spot among the top-three sellers. Originally at the resort’s Old Coral Isle restaurant, Tonga Toast is now served at the Kona Cafe. Disney chef Michael Thompson, who was a Polynesian Resort chef for seven years, says he can’t give exact numbers on the volume of Tonga Toast sales,  but sums: “Let’s just say we receive our bananas by the pallet load!”

To make the dish, Disney’s cooking team tucks bananas into thick slices of sourdough Pullman bread (a sourdough version of square-loafed Pain de Mie), dunks the stuffed bread in eggwash, deep fries to toast and then liberally coats the golden result in cinnamon sugar. Served with strawberry sauce and choice of breakfast meat, “Tonga Toast is a “Wow!” item that now has a legacy following,” says Thompson.

When they first shaped the dish, Thompson says Disney chefs tried stuffing the toast with marinated peaches, mango slices and other fruits, “But bananas won out.” Individual chefs over the years have put their own spin on the dish–adding banana liqueur to the batter, for example. But the recipe below is the standard. NOTE: Disney didn’t provide their strawberry sauce recipe, so, we’ve paired the toast with simple, macerated (sugar-tossed) strawberries. A dollop of yogurt or sweetened sour-cream is a nice finishing topper, too.

Makes six servings

Tonga Toast Ingredients

  • 1, 13 x 4 x 4 inch lidded Pullman pan to make 1, 13 x 4 x 4 inch loaf of Pullman bread (Note: If you can’t find a large, lidded, Pullman pan, you can use a smaller (9 x 4 x 4) lidded Pullman pan and place the four inches of extra dough in a small loaf pan to make an extra loaf of bread for toast. To bake the bread, I followed King Arthur flour’s pain de mie recipe.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 3 bananas
  • Canola or peanut oil for deep fat fryer
  • 2 cups strawberries, hulled, and diced fine
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow dipping bowl large enough to fit a slice of bread. Set aside.
  2. Whisk eggs with milk in a second shallow dipping bowl. Set aside.
  3. Mix strawberries with 1/2 cup sugar. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Peel each banana. Slice each banana in half at the middle; slice each half into halves lengthwise. You should now have 12 banana pieces: two for each stuffed toast serving.
  5. Slice 1/2 inch off each end of the loaf and discard. Slice remaining bread into six, 2-inch slices. Cut a slit into the side of each slice; pull out a bit of the interior bread to make a little space for the two banana pieces. Insert two banana pieces into each hollowed sliced of bread. Dip stuffed bread into egg wash on both sides. Deep fry at 350 degrees for one minute: turn toast over and fry for another minute. Remove fried toast to a paper-towel-lined platter. Dip finished toast in cinnamon sugar to coat. Repeat process until all bread is fried and sugared. Serve toast with macerated strawberries and a dollop of yogurt.

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