Sunday, June 13, 2010

Going Bananas for Banana Cream Pie (From Scratch!!!)

Okay, so while Banana Cream Pie is arguably an American Classic, this recipe was by no means "simple as pie". EVERYTHING was from scratch, and the smallest mishap with any component of this recipe could lead to disaster. Now naturally there's always the old-fashioned go-to for this recipe: a pre-bought pie crust from the frozen foods aisle with a prepared package of Jello Pudding to fill it. This recipe, though, refuses to except the old norm and took my pastry challenges to a different level.

I will admit - the frozen pie shell is truly a Godsend. It allows you to wait up until the last possible moment to prepare everything since it's all ready to go! But trust me, a homemade pie crust is by no means imitable, and once you finally learn how to do it you will find yourself avoiding the frozen pastry aisle at the grocery store quite readily. This particular pie crust required a blind baking period as the filling is not cooked within the shell. For this, you can use one of two things: actual pie weight or dried beans (as I did). Once done with the step, you can store the beans and make them your official "blind baking weights" since you won't want to cook with them after this process.
I can guarantee this is one of the flakiest, most flavorful pie crusts you will ever try! The photos do it little justice. The trick behind this amazing pastry is not overdoing it - cutting the butter the right number of times, folding the dough gently to incorporate the water, and rolling the dough just enough to form a ball will create a buttery, flaky crust you won't be able to resist!
Now here is an ingredient many don't see that often - the vanilla bean. Vanilla extract has made the versatile ingredient more accessible and affordable, but in its natural form vanilla becomes a true powerhouse of flavor. Not only do we get a greater depth to the essence of the bean, but it also adds a wonderful visual aesthetic. While extract can easily replace vanilla bean
Caramel is a beautiful addition to any dessert, but making it from scratch? I've made my own caramel in a previous post, and as before it's presence made the dessert. Always make sure to watch the sugar carefully - it can burn on the turn of a dime. Just as soon as the edges begin to get that deep amber color, remove it from the heat and let stir in the the heavy cream. This is the dangerous part as that cream will bubble up a LOT. Make sure to use a deep enough pan to prevent overflow.
The assembly of this cake is the best part. The pastry cream chilling in the fridge, the caramel cooling off to the side, and the pie crust is ready to be filled. Once the chocolate is melted, it and the caramel create the base of the filling, followed by the pastry cream, and finally the bananas. This recipe was created to fill a 10-inch crust, and since I used a 9-inch pie plate, I halved the dough recipe and had leftover caramel. The cream I simply filled to the top regardless (because it was just that good!) Trust me, I can guarantee your friends and guests will be craving seconds. Enjoy!
Banana Cream Pie with Homemade Caramel and Chocolate Crust
Adapted from ana_muh_rae
Serves 8 - 10

  • (one) Fully Baked and Cooled 10-inch Flaky Tart Dough Pie Shell (below)
  • 3oz Bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 1c. Heavy Cream (very cold)
  • 2tbsp. Sugar
  • 1/3c. Caramel (recipe below)
  • 2 1/2c. Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • 2 Ripe Bananas, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 3oz Bittersweet chocolate bar for making curl (I used Ghiradelli 60% Cocoa)
Flaky Tart Dough (makes enough for one 10-in crust or two 9-in crusts)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2/3 cup Water, very cold
  • 3 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup + 5 tbsp unsalted butter, very cold
Pastry Cream (2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Vanilla bean
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 4 tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cups + 1tbsp Sugar
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 4tbsp. Unsalted butter
Caramel (makes 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2/3c. Heavy cream
  • 1/4 Vanilla bean
  • 1 1/4c. Sugar
  • 1/4c. Water
  • 1/4tsp. Salt
  • 2tbsp. Light corn syrup
  • 3/4tsp. Lemon juice
  • 4tbsp. Unsalted Butter

For the Flaky Tart Dough: In a small bowl, add the salt to the water and stir to dissolve. Keep very cold until ready to use.

To make the dough in the food processor, put the flour in the work bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and scatter the pieces over the flour. Pulse briefly until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still in pieces the size of peas. Add the water-and-salt mixture and pulse for several seconds until the dough begins to come together in a ball but is not completely smooth. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.

To make the dough by hand (
I used this method), put the flour in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and scatter the pieces over the flour. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture forms large crumbs and some of the butter is still in pieces the size of peas. Drizzle in the water-and-salt mixture and stir and toss with a fork until the dough begins to come together in a shaggy mass. Gently mix until the dough comes together into a ball but is not completely smooth. You should still be able to see some butter chunks.

On a lightly floured work surface, divide the dough into 2 equal balls and shape each ball into a disk 1-inch thick (
since I halved the recipe, I only had 1 disk). Wrap well in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or for up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375F

Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thick and place into pie dish. Blind bake the shell for 25mins until the surface looks light brown. Remove the shell from oven and remove the weights, return pie shell to oven and bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes longer.

Let the shell cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

For the Pastry Cream: Have a bowl ready for cooling the pastry cream with a fine-mesh sieve resting on the rim.

Pour the milk into a heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Add the salt, place over medium-high heat, and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally and making sure that the milk solids are not sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar. Add the eggs and whisk until smooth.

When the milk is ready, slowly ladle about one-third of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking over medium heat until about 2 minutes. I order for the cornstarch to cook ad thicken fully, the mixture must come just to the boiling point. You want to see a few slow bubbles. Remove from heat and immediately pour through the sieve into the bowl. Let cool for 10minutes, stirring occasionally to release the heat and prevent a skim from forming on top.

Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces. When the pastry cream is ready (temp should be at 140F) whisk the butter into the pastry cream 1 tablespoon at a time, always whisking until smooth before adding the next tablespoon.

To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the top of the cream (the plastic wrap prevents a skin from forming on the surface). Chill.

For the Caramel: Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Place over medium-high heart and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm (I actually just microwaved the cream for two 25-second intervals once the sugar neared its amber color; saved both stovetop space and the fear of burning the cream).

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add them to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.

Final Assembly: Have the pie shell ready for filling. Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat. Using a offset spatula, pastry brush, or the back of the spoon, spread the melted chocolate evenly over the bottom of the pie shell. Refrigerate for 10minutes to set the chocolate.

While the chocolate is setting, pour heavy cream into a mixing bowl and whip with a whisk or a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until thickened. Add the sugar and continue to whip until it holds medium-firm peaks.

Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator and drizzle the caramel evenly over the chocolate. Transfer the pastry cream to the shell. Arrange the banana slices evenly over the pastry cream, and then lightly press them into the cream.

Using an offset or rubber spatula, spread the whipped cream on the top. Cover with chocolate curls and powdered sugar (optional). ENJOY!!!

Chill the pie until the pastry cream is set, at least 3 hours. Serve the pie cool. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

1 comment:

Beth M. said...

Uh, please stop baking while I'm out of town. Or mail me sample pieces. Okay thanks.

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