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Banana Cream Pie

In CurvyMama’s quest for the yummiest pie ever, she vowed to use the fruit-scarce winter months to perfect creamy custardy sorts of pies. As spring takes hold, she’s here to declare that she’s pretty darn satisfied with the results. The latest happiness emanates from this banana cream pie.

The combination of crisp, flaky crust, just-barely-ripe bananas and a creamy custard makes me swoon. But because I’ve had occasional trouble with the custard in my cream pies being too droopy, I made it my winter project to find the right mixture of dairy and thickener to provide rich creamy loveliness while still holding its shape when sliced. And at the risk of being struck down by the Pastry Gods for arrogance, I’ll say that I think I’ve done it. 🙂

I am thrilled to death with my coconut cream pie, too. Check out that post if you missed it.

When it comes to banana cream, I will be reduced to begging: I implore you not to use bananas that have even one brown spot on their skins. Buy them when they are just barely ripe. And then rush home right away, ignoring the laundry, your boss’ urgent voicemail, and everything else, and just make that pie. And serve it. Really soon.

The point of all this slightly ridiculous carrying-on is to emphasize the time-sensitive nature of this fruit. If you let the bananas hang around your kitchen too long, or let the pie sit around for much more than a few hours before serving it, you could end up with overripe brown bananas, which don’t taste anywhere near as lovely, and certainly aren’t pretty to look at. At the risk of bragging, take a look at the banana slices in this baby. Firm, light yellow, with a little gloss; just right!

So yeah, buying the bananas at just-barely-ripe is crucial, and so is using them right away (or don’t buy them until you are ready to make the pie and serve it in short order!). The other crucial time interval is between making your crust and custard, and putting the pie together to serve it. Go ahead; have a great time blind-baking your crust, and cooking your custard on the stovetop. You have some wiggle room on the clock here; you can do this stuff the day before you want your loved ones to eat this pie. In fact, cooking the custard the day before gives it ample time to chill and thicken sufficiently.

If you bake the crust and cook the custard the day before, then you can assemble the pie a few hours before you plan to serve it: whip up the cream for the top, and you’ll serve a mind-blowingly fresh, amazing dessert. You can also bake the crust and cook the custard the morning of the day you want to serve it at dinner. But when it comes to actually assembling the pie, I try to wait to do that until just a few hours before I will serve it.

With no further ado, here is the recipe. Have fun, and enjoy!

CurvyMama Pies' Banana Cream Pie
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Ingredients
  1. One blind-baked 9-inch crust (try all-butter dough or butter-and-leaf-lard dough)
Filling
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  3. 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  4. A dash of salt
  5. 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  6. 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  7. 4 egg yolks
  8. Seeds from half of a vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. vanilla paste, or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  9. 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  10. 4 bananas, barely ripe & quite firm, with no brown spots on the skin
Topping
  1. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  2. 2-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  3. A few teaspoons of graham-cracker or ginger-cookie crumbs for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Have a clean, medium-sized bowl near the stove.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt. Whisk in the milk and half-and-half. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. If you are using vanilla bean seeds, whisk them in now. Put a medium-high heat under this mixture.
  3. Cook the custard, whisking steadily, until it thickens and begins to boil. Take care to whisk the sides and the bottom of the pan to prevent lumps of custard from forming. Once it boils, cook the custard two or three minutes more, whisking constantly. Take the custard off the heat.
  4. If you skipped the vanilla bean seeds and are using vanilla paste or extract, add it now. Add the butter. Stir til combined. Pour the custard into the bowl and lightly press a sheet a plastic wrap onto the surface. Chill fully, until the custard is thick enough to hold its shape when the pie is sliced. This can take 4-8 hours.
  5. When you are ready to assemble the pie--no more than 6 or 8 hours before serving--slice two of the bananas and spread them in the bottom of the piecrust. Spoon half the custard over them. Slice the other two bananas and layer them over the custard. Spoon in the remaining half of the custard, smoothing it over the pie to make sure all the bananas are fully covered.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the heavy cream and powdered sugar. Beat until stiff. Spoon or pipe it over the top of the pie. Sprinkle cookie crumbs over the top. Chill until serving.
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