banana cream pie

with a few exceptions i like to try and keep my recipes pretty pure, i.e., i'm not a big fan of using processed ingredients in my desserts if i can help it. ( but i def never say never.) when i cruised pinterest for a banana cream pie recipe a lot of the results included nilla wafers and banana pudding in the ingredient list. nothing against nilla wafers or banana pudding, but i wanted something a little more authentic. that's when i found martha stewart's version, complete with a cool little video. 

what's really weird is there isn't any actual banana in the custard itself...yet it tastes like banana. i'm sure there's something about your brain expecting banana, combined with the fresh fruit in the pie, and seeing the yellow creme and it's a bit of a placebo effect, but it works nonetheless. 

a couple notes regarding this recipe:

-this pie requires a blind-baked crust, which means no cheating on the chill time of your dough, so plan accordingly. blind baking is when you bake your pie shell without any filling and then fill after your pie crust has cooled. (also, say what you will about good old martha, but the pie crust how-to videos on her site are really solid. check this one on how to blind-bake.) some people "dock" their pies, meaning they poke little holes with a fork into the crust to prevent it from puffing up when blind baking. this isn't always recommended since filling can seep into these holes and make the crust soggy, but since the layer of fresh banana cushions the bottom it does ok with this filling. so if that's your preferred method, it works in this instance.

-most banana cream pies have bananas on top of the pies, just note that bananas turn brown quickly much like apples or avocados. it's best to decorate with the fresh fruit right before serving to avoid a brown nanna on top of your pie. especially in south texas in the summer...you have like, 10 minutes before it's really unappetizing.

-when she says whisk your custard constantly, she means constantly. i found the point which the custard went from being soupy to thickening up was a bit 0-60. one second it's thin and you feel like you'll be stirring forever and ever amen, and the next it's rapidly thickening and needs to be removed from the heat immediately. another reason to watch it like a hawk, it'll happen fast. the toughest part of this pie is getting the consistency of the custard correct - as you stir you'll start to notice thick, gel-like remnants forming on your whisk, keep stirring and suddenly the whole mixture will thicken up. remove from the heat promptly and into the ice bath. if your custard is sloshing around in the pan it's not ready. it thickens ever so slightly as it cools, but not that much. cook until the mixture is thick like pudding.

-if you can, make this pie the night before and refrigerate, covered overnight. then, cover/decorate with the fresh whipped cream and add bananas right before serving. the custard will set up and cut much nicer that way. (you can serve after only chilling for an hour and it will taste fine, it's just a little bit of a hot mess to look at.)

| ingredients |

1 pie crust, blind baked and cooled
1 large whole egg, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg yolks
6 to 8 medium-ripe bananas
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

| method |

prepare an ice bath and set aside. in a medium sized mixing bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks, also set aside. in a saucepan, whisk together the milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes until warmed through.

whisk a quarter of the warmed milk mixture into egg yolks to temper them, whisking constantly as you add the mixture; in a slow, steady stream, whisk in the remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly as you add the milk. strain the egg and milk mixture into a clean saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until custard is thick and bubbles appear in center, 2 to 3 minutes (see my notes above regarding this step!) 

transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming as the custard cools. set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes. 

cut 3 to 4 bananas into 1/4-inch slices, slightly on the bias. beginning at the edge of the pie crust, arrange the slices in slightly overlapping rows. cover with the chilled custard, using an offset spatula to smooth it into an even layer. refrigerate the pie, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (i find chilling overnight results in the best serving!)

add the whipped cream and bananas just before serving.

to make the fresh whipped cream, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine cream and confectioners' sugar; beat until soft peaks form. using a small offset spatula, spread or pipe the whipped cream on top of the custard. top with banana slices if desired!