Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Dreamy Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie is one of those indulgence worthy dessert that leaves a smile on your face without doing much damage to your diet, that's it if you stick to a slice. So, it all begins with a bunch of ripe bananas sitting on the kitchen counter. For some reason, I do not feel the urge to bake any banana bread today. Banana Cream Pie, on the other hand, is something that I don't make too often. In fact, my first banana cream pie endeavour was Christmas last year which received some mix reviews from family and friends.

Armed with the comments I received last year, I was eager to find the recipe with the perfect balance of everything...a banana cream pie worthy of its name. In come the recipe from the home diva, Martha Stewart. Now, it is my first time trying out a recipe from Martha Stewart's online recipe collection. I made a few adjustments though, as usual. Instead of using her pie crust recipe which called for a pate brisee, I used our family go to Betty Crocker's pie crust recipe. Mom has used the recipe since she first started making apple pies some years ago and that is still the only pie crust recipe that she likes. Also, the addition of vanilla in the custard filling gives it a nice flavor while enhancing the taste of the bananas. I just love banana and vanilla together. This pie is so easy to make that the only difficult part is to wait for it to get cold enough before serving.

Banana Cream Pie
(Serves 8)

For the Pie Crust
(Makes 1 9-inch single crust)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp shortening
2-3 Tbsp cold water

For the Custard
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe )
4 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cold butter
1 tsp vanilla

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp sugar

3 medium size banana, sliced


Step 1: Preheat oven to 475 F or 246C. Make the pie crust. Combine the flour, salt and shortening by using a pastry cutter, food processor or your hand. Please be sure to work fast if using your hand. Overworking the dough will result in tough pie crust. Sprinkle water over the pie crust mix. Gather all the dough and mold it into a ball as you will make a snowball.

Step 2: Flatten into a disk. Wrap in a cling wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Step 3: In between two sheets of wax paper, roll out the pie crust to 12-inch diameter.

Step 4: Peel off one side of the wax paper. Carefully, transfer the pie crust to the pie plate. Lay pie crust gently onto plate. Peel off the other side of the wax paper. Press pie crust gently onto the bottom and side of plate to fit.

Step 5: Crimp the edges of pie, by either using the flute method or with the back of a fork. Trim off excess, if necessary.
Step 6: Dork the pie crust using a fork to avoid crust from puffing up during the baking process.

Step 7: Cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit onto pie crust. Press parchment gently onto crust.

Step 8: Fill with rice or beans. This is refer to as the blind baking process. The weight will help keep the crust from puffing up.

Step 9: Bake for 15-17 minutes till the edges are slightly golden brown. Avoid the temptation to overbake. You do not want a hard pie crust. Remove the parchment and rice. Discard the rice or beans used. It is no longer good for cooking. Alternately, store the rice or bean to be used in the next blind baking process. Rest pie crust on a wire rack to let cool.

Step 10: Prepare the custard filling. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of whole milk to a simmer over medium heat.

Step 11: While waiting for milk to come up to a simmer, combine sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks and salt in a large bowl. Whisk till smooth. Once milk begins to simmer, pour half cup of milk to egg mix in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously. Return egg mix to saucepan and cook over medium heat till custard is thick, about 2 mins. Whisk constantly. 
Step 12: Pour custard through a medium fine mesh strainer to smooth out any lumps. Stir in vanilla and butter. Make sure butter is all melted into the custard.

Step 13: To assemble, place 3 Tbsp of custard at the bottom of the crust.
Top with banana slices.

Spread remainder custard on top of banana to cover. Cover pie with a plastic wrap. Press plastic wrap onto custard surface to avoid skin from forming. Let cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

Step 14: Prepare whipped cream topping right before serving. Combine whipping cream and sugar in a bowl. Using a hand beater, start beating cream on low speed until mixture thickens. Add in vanilla and continue to beat whipped cream until hard peaks formed, about 3 mins. Top banana cream pie with whipped cream.
Optional: You can skip this step all together. Use a good store bought whipped cream as topping.

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