Baking my way through Baking Illustrated

Banana Cream Pie

What would your last meal be? Mine: a slice of banana cream pie with a cup of black coffee.

The first time I made this, I doubled the recipe and made two pies, because I had a feeling it would be awesome (and it was). It’s so good you’ll want to share, but make sure you make enough for yourself, too!

Tip: you can make the pie crust dough up to 2 days ahead.

This recipe was originally printed in Baking Illustrated

Cream Filling

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 7/8 ounces) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups 2 percent or whole milk
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, about 3 inches long split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 teaspoons brandy

1 recipe Prebaked Pie Dough coated with Graham Cracker Crumbs, fully baked and cooled completely

Whipped Cream Topping

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. For the filling: Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Add the yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in the milk and evaporated milk. Drop in the vanilla bean (if using). Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly, as the mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. Once the mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Remove the pan from the heat; whisk in the butter, vanilla extract (if using), and brandy. Remove the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and whisk them back into the filling.

2. Pour the filling into a shallow pan (another pie pan works well). Put plastic wrap directly on the filling surface to prevent a skin from forming; cool until warm, 20 to 30 minutes.

For Banana Cream Pie:

The best place for the banana slices is sandwiched between two layers of filling. If sliced over the pie shell, the bananas tend to moisten the crust; if sliced over the filling top or mashed and folded into the filling, they turn brown faster.

3. Begin with the baked and cooled pie shell. Pour half the warm filling into the crust. Peel 2 medium bananas and slice them over the filling. Top with the remaining filling.

4. Refrigerate the pie until completely chilled, at least 3 hours. If you slice it too early, the filling will ooze out and the whole thing you worked so hard for will become a soggy, unattractive mess (although it will still be delicious).

5. For the topping: When ready to serve, beat the cream and sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer at medium speed to soft peaks; add the vanilla. Continue to beat to barely stiff peaks. Spread over the filling and serve immediately.

Pie Dough for Prebaked Pie Shell

For 1 single-crust 9-inch pie

This pie requires blind baking the crust first, which is the process of baking the crust with weights before it’s filled. Lining the dough with something heavy while it’s in the oven prevents the sides from sliding to the bottom before it has time to become crisp. If you don’t have a bag of pie weights, lining the crust with aluminum foil and filling it with rice, dried beans or pennies works well.

  • 1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water

1. Process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. turn the mixture into a medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if the dough will not come together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface or between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling over the pan. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while gently pressing into the pan bottom with the other hand. Trim the dough edges to extend about 1/2 inch beyond the rim of the pan. Fold the overhang under itself; flute the dough or press the tines of a fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

4. Adjust an over rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freezer, press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy-duty foil inside the pie shell, and fold the edges of the foil to shield the fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over the foil. Bake, leaving the foil and weights in place until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the corners of the foil and pulling up and out. For a partially baked crust, continue baking until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes; for a fully baked crust, continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack.

Variation: Prebaked Pie Dough Coated with Graham Cracker Crumbs

Custard fillings, such as those used in lemon meringue pie and cream pies, are tough on crisp crusts. After much experimentation, [Baking Illustrated] found that rolling out the pie dough in graham cracker crumbs promotes browning and crisps the crust. It also adds a wonderful graham flavor that complements the lemon and cream pie fillings without masking the character of the dough itself.

Follow the recipe for Pie Dough for Prebaked Pie Shell, sprinkling the work surface with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs when rolling out the dough. Sprinkle more crumbs over the dough itself. Continue sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top of the dough as it is rolled, coating the dough heavily with crumbs. You will use a total of about 1/2 cup crumbs. Fit the graham cracker-coated dough into a pie plate as directed and bake fully.

This entry was posted in Baking Illustrated.

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