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For as long as I can remember by husband has been raving about banana cream pie. Along with chocolate cream they are his favorite pies, and half a slice of each put together side-by-side is his favorite way of eating them. Though I’m sure I saw it when I lived in the states, I can’t think of a single time where I’ve eaten either. He described banana cream pie to me as being vanilla pudding with sliced bananas inside a graham cracker crust. Frankly it sounded kind of weird to me — or maybe it’s because I’ve never been a big fan of pudding.
We’ve yet to come across a cream pie like that in Europe, and I the untalented baker never entertained the idea of making one for him. That is until last week when I got it into my head that I would surprise him with one of his favorite desserts. He, and you, already know about my baking problems, so to lessen the torture of having to endure another failed attempt I kept my plans secret and did as much research as possible.
The night before preparing it I revealed my banana cream pie plans to him. “I’m making you a special dessert, banana cream pie.”
With an excited look and smile he looked at me and said, “Really? Wow, why?”
“Because I know it’s your favorite”, I said to him. By now my husband had a few more seconds to think and the look on his face went from excitement to trepidation. I think he had traumatic flash-backs of all my failed baking and dessert attempts he’s had to endure. The poor man, hehe! I reassured him by saying I would be following a Martha Stewart recipe, and promised not to lighten it up by leaving out some of the required sugar or butter. I don’t think he bought it though.
After much research Martha Stewart’s recipe was the one that most appealed to me and one easy enough for me to manage. As promised I followed her recipe to the best of my ability — no sugar was left out. But I did have to make a change to the pie shell, instead of making her pate brisee I made a chocolate cookie crust. Also I added a little bit of vanilla extract to the pudding because many other recipes called for it, and it sounded good to me. Her recipe also called for an elaborate whipped cream topping but I decided to skip it and instead we used a commercial brand (don’t judge) and sprayed a few dollops to each sliced we served ourselves.
- 198 gm or 7 oz chocolate flavoured digestive crackers
- 3-4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1 large whole egg plus 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 4 medium-ripe bananas**
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract (added by me, optional)
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Place crackers in a large plastic bag, with a rolling pin crush into fine crumbs. Place into a large bowl, slowly add a little bit of the melted butter while stirring and continue until they begin sticking together. Using your fingers push/shape into pie dish, then cover and leave in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a bowl, lightly whisk egg and egg yolks; set aside. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, vanilla extract, granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Whisk a quarter of hot-milk mixture into egg yolks; whisk in remaining milk mixture. Strain 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. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set in ice bath until completely chilled, 30 to 35 minutes. (Filling can be kept in refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, up to 1 day.)
- Cut 3 or 4 bananas into ¼-inch slices, slightly on the bias. Beginning at the edge of the piecrust, arrange the slices in slightly overlapping rows. Cover with custard, using an offset spatula to smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate pie, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
As we waited for the pie to set I started getting nervous about whether it would be to my husband’s liking. The fact that it’s his favorite and my history with desserts really put the pressure on. When the pie was ready I served us each a slice and anxiously awaited his reaction. With a huge surprised look and a mouthful he exclaimed, “Mmmmm, this is good!” Phew, was I relieved! After taking my first bite I finally realised why this pie was his favorite. It tasted, creamy, sweet, with touches of banana and hints of vanilla — it was fantastic! The pudding filling is so delicious that I can see myself making just that for dessert now and then. Trust me it is worth every stir and minute over the stove.
I have to say that both hubby and I were proud of me for suceeding so well this time, thanks to Ms. Stewart of course. But best of all was that my husband loved it and asked for me to make his favorite pie again soon. (Insert happy dance!)
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I hope you’re all having a great weekend!