3.14 – a day that comes but once a year

10th March, 2010 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Banana cream pie with chocolate cracker crust.

March 14th, in addition to being a lead up to St. Patrick’s Day, also has the distinction of being Pi Day. Since I live with a mathematician and we all like pie, this tends to get celebrated around my house.

This year I decided to go with a classic custard pie: banana cream. Banana cream pie is also my father’s very favorite pie and one of the first things I learned to make. If you have children and were looking for an introductory recipe, this is a good one to start with. Adults can take care of the custard while the littles chop bananas with a butter knife and break up graham crackers for the crust. Plus, the final result is pie – which everyone loves no matter how it looks.

Unlike baked banana goods, banana cream pie calls for fresh bananas – the fresher the better. Plan to use two or three.

Because this is a custard pie, it sets up in the refrigerator rather than being baked. This means that the pie crust needs to be ready to go prior to being filled. If you’re a pie crust classist, then make a traditional pie crust, fill it with pie weights and bake. Personally, I like a graham cracker crust with cream pies and they take hardly any time at all. The recipe is included below.

Since this is an old-fashioned banana cream pie, then the custard is made in the old fashioned way: on the stove with egg yolks. If you need pie in a hurry or have issues with scalding milk, then feel free to use instant pudding for a similar effect, but give it a try at least once. Scalding milk is a bit misleading, basically the milk is heated until it just begins to simmer then is pulled off the heat. The milk should not come to a boil at any time. Also, if the milk should get truly scalded and burns, toss it and start over. No amount of vanilla will cover the flavor of scorched dairy.

The recipe also calls for tempering the egg yolks with the hot milk. This is an important step – do not skip it. Tempering is when a bit of the hot liquid is added to the cold yolks before mixing everything together. If the cold egg yolks are added to the hot milk they will scramble, resulting in cooked egg bits floating in a lot of milk – not the custard that was the original goal.

By adding a small amount of the the hot stuff and mixing it together, you’re getting the eggs warmed up – literally – to the idea of being added to the milk. It’s a small thing, but crucial to the final product.

When everything is mixed together, let it sit and cool until it’s lukewarm, pour into the crust and refrigerate until set. Serve with meringue made from the leftover egg whites or whipped cream.

Classic Banana Cream Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 bananas

Directions:
1. Have baked 9-inch pie shell ready.

2. In a large saucepan, scald the milk.

3. Add the sugar, flour and salt; over medium heat, stir constantly, cook until thickened.

5. Cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.

6. In a small bowl, have the 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten, ready; stir a small amount of the hot mixture into beaten yolks; when thoroughly combined, stir yolks into hot mixture.

7. Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.

8. Remove from heat and blend in the butter and vanilla.

9. Let sit until lukewarm.

10. Meanwhile, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.

11. Refrigerate pie until set, 1-2 hours. If desired, make a meringue (you’ll have 3 leftover egg whites) to top the pie, or top with whipped cream.

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Ingredients
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Preparation
Combine all ingredients; press over bottom and up sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 400ยก for 10 minutes.

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Posted on: March 10, 2010

Filed under: Dessert, Vegetarian

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