I've never had banana cream pie before, so obviously I have never made it before either. I was up for the challenge though since this pie is seemingly the favorite of so many people, especially down here in the South. It's hard for me to fairly judge this pie however since I am not a fan of pastry cream or bananas. I like them well enough, but they are not my favorite.
I've got to say- I executed this pie perfectly. The crust came out flaky and crisp. The pastry cream was not overly stiff or a pile of goo. The topping held up perfectly in the fridge for two days without weeping. Damn, I'd say I did a pretty good job with this pie. And it certainly was good. I can't say it was my favorite thing that I have ever made or the best banana cream pie out there, but take into account the fact that I don't usually like pastry cream or banana's.
With that said, if you are a banana cream pie, you will love this pie. It was very good and I was impressed with how each component (the pie crust, the filling, and the topping) came out delicious and complemented each other perfectly. I will say, I did two things differently than the recipe dictates. I omitted the whole graham cracker crumbs on the pie crust thing, although I do think that it is a good idea. I also added gelatin to my whipped topping to aide in the stability and thickness of it. If you are planning on serving all of the pie at once without saving any for the next day then this isn't necessary. However, if that's not the case, you will either want to stabilize your whipped cream or make some fresh when you serve it up each time. Whipped cream will not store well because the liquid separates as it sits which is called "weeping" in this case. It's pretty yucky. SO! you have a few choices- if you can find "whip it" at your grocery store, then just add that to your cream before you start whipping the cream (it's a commercially made stabilizer). You can also use cornstarch but I frown on that because of the alter in taste and texture. I believe gelatin to be the next best option. Take I Tb of cold water and mix 1 tsp unflavored gelatin- let it sit a minute to dissolve. Pop it into the microwave for 10-30 second or until it dissolves. It only took my microwave 10 seconds, but it was about to boil over, so watch it. Then after you add the sugar once the cream starts to peak, you add the gelatin and vanilla. Here is my basic recipe for that:
Stabilized Whipped Cream
1 Tb cold water
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy cream, cold
3 - 4 Tb confectioner's sugar (I use 4 Tb, which = 1/4 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place cold water in small bowl and sprinkle gelatin on top and let sit until dissolved (about 1 minute). Microwave 10-30 seconds or until melted, watching all the while so it doesn't overflow. Whip cream until it starts to make ribbons and thicken. Add confectioners sugar and whip until distributed. Add gelatin then vanilla, whip until medium peaks are achieved.
Banana Cream Pie
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
- Graham Cracker Coated Pie Shell
- 1 1/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2teaspoon table salt
- 1tablespoon granulated sugar
- 6tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
- 3–4tablespoons ice water
- 1/2cup graham cracker crumbs
- Banana Cream Filling
- 1/2cup granulated sugar , plus 2 tablespoons
- 1/4cup cornstarch
- 1/8teaspoon table salt
- 5large egg yolks , lightly beaten
- 2cups milk , whole or 2 percent
- 1/2cup evaporated milk
- 1/2vanilla bean , about 3-inches long, split lengthwise
- 2tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1teaspoon brandy or more to taste
- 2medium bananas
- Whipped Cream Topping
- 1cup heavy cream
- 2tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1/2teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the Crust: Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor fitted with the steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five one-second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no larger than a small pea, about four more one-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the water over mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into flour mixture, then repeatedly press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more water if dough will not come together. Shape dough into ball with hands, then flatten into 4-inch wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 30 minutes before rolling.
- Generously sprinkle 18-inch work area with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. Remove dough from wrapping and place in center of work area. Scatter a few more crumbs over disk top. Roll dough from center to edges to make 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top, as necessary, to heavily coat dough. Flip dough and continue to roll, without rotating, into 13-inch disk just under 1/8-inch thick.
- Fold dough in quarters, then place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Unfold dough to cover pan completely, with excess dough draped over pan lip. Trim and flute crust, (see illustrations 1-4 below).
- Refrigerate dough until firm, about 30 minutes. Prick shell at 1/2-inch intervals to keep dough from ballooning during baking, (illustration 5). Press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil inside pie shell. Prick foil to prevent further ballooning. Refrigerate to let dough relax, at least 30 minutes longer.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, checking occasionally for ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and golden brown in color, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.
- For the Filling: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in medium saucepan. Add yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in milk and evaporated milk. Drop in vanilla bean. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly as mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Once mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Remove pan from heat; whisk in butter and brandy. Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and whisk them back into filling.
- Pour filling into shallow pan (another pie pan works well). Put plastic wrap directly over filling surface to prevent skin from forming; cool until warm, about 30 minutes. Pour half the warm filling into pie shell. Peel and slice the bananas on top of half the filling and top with remaining filling. Once again, place sheet of plastic wrap directly over filling surface. Refrigerate pie until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.
- Whip cream to soft peaks. Add confectioner's sugar and vanilla; continue to whip to barely stiff peaks. Spread over filling and refrigerate until ready to serve.