Banana Cream Pie

From Cook's Country | August/September 2012
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Why this recipe works:

This layered concoction of pastry cream and sliced bananas topped with whipped cream is often delicious and sometimes sliceable, but very rarely both. Using too much starch for stability resulted in a chalky, stodgy pastry cream. Instead, we found trading some of the excess starch for… read more

This layered concoction of pastry cream and sliced bananas topped with whipped cream is often delicious and sometimes sliceable, but very rarely both. Using too much starch for stability resulted in a chalky, stodgy pastry cream. Instead, we found trading some of the excess starch for additional egg yolks and a bit of butter created the sliceable texture we were after. For banana flavor, rather than relying on banana extract (artificial) or liqueur (impractical) as most recipes call for, we got far better results by infusing the pastry cream with sauteed bananas. To slow down browning of the fresh banana slices, we tossed them in orange juice.

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Serves 8

Use all-yellow to lightly spotted, not green-topped or all-brown bananas for this recipe. Peel and slice the bananas just before using to help prevent browning. When straining the half-and-half in step 2, do not press on the bananas or the custard will turn gray as it sits. The pie can be made up to 24 hours in advance.

Ingredients

  • 5 ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 Pillsbury Just Unroll! Pie Crust
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Instructions

  1. 1. Peel 2 bananas and slice into ½-inch-thick pieces. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sliced bananas and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add half-and-half, bring to boil, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 40 minutes.

    2. Whisk granulated sugar, egg yolks, and salt together in large bowl until smooth. Whisk in cornstarch. Strain cooled half-and-half mixture through fine-mesh strainer into yolk mixture—do not press on bananas—and whisk until incorporated; discard cooked bananas.

    3. Transfer mixture to clean medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened to consistency of warm pudding (180 degrees), 4 to 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat; whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Transfer pastry cream to bowl, press greased parchment paper directly against surface, and let cool for about 1 hour.

    4. Meanwhile, roll pie dough into 12-inch round on lightly floured counter. Transfer to 9-inch pie plate, fold edge of dough under itself so edge of fold is flush with outer rim of plate, and flute edges. Refrigerate for 40 minutes, then freeze for 20 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

    5. Line chilled pie shell with 12-inch square of aluminum foil, folding foil over edges of dough. Fill with pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights, rotate plate, and continue baking until crust is golden brown, 7 to 11 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

    6. Peel and slice remaining 3 bananas ¼ inch thick and toss with orange juice. Whisk pastry cream briefly, then spread half over bottom of pie shell. Arrange sliced bananas on pastry cream. Top with remaining pastry cream.

    7. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining ½ teaspoon vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread whipped cream evenly over top of pie. Refrigerate until set, at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours. Serve.

Test Kitchen Technique: Boosting Banana Flavor

To give our Banana Cream Pie deep banana flavor, we first flavor the half-and-half that we’ll be using to make the custard.

1. Add half-and-half to sliced bananas that have been sauteed in melted butter. Bring to boil, cover pot, and steep mixture for 40 minutes.

2. Strain banana-infused half-and-half into egg yolk mixture. Discard bananas.

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