Thursday, January 19, 2006

Banana Cream Pie

I like pies. When I was growing up, and even now at the ripe, old age of 52, I often preferred to have pies over cake for my birthdays. My mom was a great pie-maker and I remember one pie in particular that was my favorite. She called it "Cascade Berry," but to this day, I'm still not totally sure what a Cascade berry is. I know there's a Cascade blueberry, but the berries my mom used were more akin to a kind of blackberry. But there's a universe of pies, all of which I crave. Lemon meringue, coconut-cream, even mincemeat are memorable for me. And don't even get me started on pumpkin--I've been known to eat an entire pumpkin pie at one sitting.

A few months ago, I had a pie craving. We had a frozen piecrust in the fridge and a box of banana instant pudding. I made the pudding, poured it into the pie crust and for some strange reason, it didn't turn out too well. I heard about that runny, chemical-tasting pile of goo for a long time after, especially from my youngest daughter, who was the only one brave enough to eat more than a small spoonful. I've since had a banana cream pie that my brother-in-law made that was pure ambrosia, due to the homemade filling and the delectable crust, which he also made from scratch. Never was the difference between a readymade, prepackaged food and something homemade driven home to me more than that night. What a difference!

Yesterday I had another craving and found that we had the necessary ingredients for a banana cream pie. I patched up the 6-month old, cracked and dried out frozen pie crust and found a simple recipe for a filling. It was easy and turned out great, the crust notwithstanding. Here's a copy of the recipe.

3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
3-4 bananas, sliced

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add milk in gradually while stirring gently. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is bubbly. Keep stirring and cook for about 2 more minutes, and then remove from the burner.
2. Stir a small quantity of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks, and immediately add egg yolk mixture to the rest of the hot mixture. Cook for 2 more minutes; remember to keep stirring. Remove the mixture from the stove, and add butter and vanilla. Stir until the whole thing has a smooth consistency.
3. Slice bananas into the cooled baked pastry shell. Top with pudding mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 12 to 15 minutes. Chill for an hour.

COMMENTS: I used 2% milk, which worked out fine (some people will even use heavy cream). Make sure the bananas are fully ripe and cut them quite thinly--a quarter inch is probably about right. Pile them up at least one-half inch on the bottom, or you won't enough filling to to fill the pie crust. It took surprisingly long for the mixture to start bubbling, so be patient and be sure to stir continuously. If I had some, I would have thrown in some coconut flakes, into the mixture and sprinkled on top, prior to baking.


gpb said...

You can't beat a home made cream pie! Once in a while we get the boxed pudding mix and it's not bad but it just doesn't compare. Glad it came out for you. That looks about like my recipe. I like to smoosh the bananas into the cream mixture but the classic way to do it is just as you lay out in the recipe. Hey, I've used 1% and it comes out fine.

me said...

Make a different pie next time.