Old Fashioned Banana Cream Pie
A traditional, homemade diner-style banana cream pie – banana-infused pastry cream, sliced fresh bananas, and sky-high whipped cream. Perfect for Pi Day!
Saturday (03.14) is Pi Day, a celebration of all things Pi. What kind of food blogging scientist would I be if I let Pi Day come and go without sharing a pie recipe, especially since I happen to own a pi-themed pie plate?
And even better, I managed to get my act together to make my pi(e) ahead of time so I can share the recipe with you in time for you to make your own!
I’ve been dealing with some pretty significant insomnia for the past several months, and spent the wee hours of Sunday morning unable to sleep, running through pie ideas. Nothing struck my fancy, however, so I turned to a search on Pinterest and there it was, waiting for me – a beautiful, sky-high, whipped cream topped banana cream pie.
I clicked on over, and found a pie recipe waiting consisting of a store-bought graham cracker crust, an instant pudding packet, and a giant tub of cool whip.
Now look, there is nothing wrong with the semi-homemade mentality – I’m actually a really big fan.
We all know those extremely obnoxious individuals who get all judgy-judgy if you use a box of cake mix (you know, the “yesterday I bought a box of cake mix and I’ve never been more embarrassed” or “whatever you do, don’t try to use a box mix to make this cake because you will ruin it!” type people), and they really make me roll my eyes.
I bake from scratch because I enjoy it – I like trying new things, changing a few things here or there and seeing what happens, and having control over each step. Lots of people don’t enjoy the precision and find baking from a mix to be much more enjoyable.
The way I see it, if I was willing to invest the time and trial-and-error mentality, I’m sure I could learn to cut my own hair, repair a car engine, or sew my own clothing. But none of these things particularly interest me, and I’d much rather do things I enjoy with my limited free time than master a skill that someone else can do better.
I’m sure lots of people feel the same way about baking, and if it isn’t fun for you, why would you do it? So if a banana cream pie with mostly store-bought ingredients is up your alley, more power to you – especially since Cool Whip is the single most delicious artificial thing in existence.
If you’re interested, this is the recipe that caught my eye visually, but I haven’t made it so I cannot vouch for the taste.
As for me, I like baking from scratch, and Pi Day surely seems like a worthy excuse to whip up (pun intended!) a batch of pastry cream for a homemade banana cream pie.
I turned to my favorite source for recipes, America’s Test Kitchen, and made a few changes along the way. The pie really isn’t that much work (just arm yourself with a whisk and some time) and the end result is fantastic, so if you’re up for a homemade pie, I highly recommend giving this recipe a go.
I love that the banana flavor in the pastry cream comes from simmering the half-and-half with fresh bananas, instead of artificial-tasting banana extract, and tossing the banana slices in orange juice really helped to slow down any browning.
I added in a chocolate lining for the crust, both because chocolate pairs so well with bananas and because it helps to prevent the crust from getting soggy over a few days.
But while I may have my pie-making skills down, I still lack in the pie-cutting department – maybe that’s what I actually should have been searching for on Pinterest!
Old Fashioned Banana Cream Pie
A traditional, homemade diner-style banana cream pie – banana-infused pastry cream, sliced fresh bananas, and sky-high whipped cream.
- 5 ripe bananas (yellow or lightly spotted, not all-brown)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups half and half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 pie crust
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Peel two bananas and slice into 1/2-inch thick slices. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the bananas and cook until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add in the half-and-half and bring to a boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let this mixture sit for 40 minutes.
- Whisk together the granulated sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl until smooth. Strain the cooled half-and-half mixture through a strainer into the yolk mixture, but don’t push down on the bananas, just collect what filters through via gravity. Discard the cooked bananas.
- Clean the saucepan and transfer mixture back in. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture just starts to bubble, 6 to 8 minutes (until mixture reaches 180F). Remove pan from heat and whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, press saran wrap directly against the surface, and cool for 1 hour.
- While the pastry cream is cooling, transfer the pie crust to a 9-inch pie plate and flute the edges. Refrigerate the crust for 40 minutes, then freeze for 20 minutes. Following freezing, cover the pie shell with aluminum foil, fill with pie weights, and bake for 20 minutes at 375F. Remove the foil and pie weights and continue to bake an additional 8 to 10 minutes, until the crust is golden in color.
- While pie is still warm, pour melted bittersweet chocolate in the center of the pie crust and spread up the edges of the pie with a pastry brush. Allow the pie to cool to room temperature; chocolate should solidify by the time the crust is cool.
- Peel and slice the remaining 3 bananas and toss with the orange juice. Whisk the pastry cream briefly, then spread half over the bottom of the pie crust Arrange the sliced bananas on top and top with the remaining pastry cream.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and remaining 1 tablespoon vanilla on high speed until stiff peaks form. Spread whipped cream evenly over the top of the pie. Refrigerate pie until set, at least 5 hours or up to 24 hours.
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Country
You know, I'm going to be dreaming of Banana Cream Pie in all forms and shapes when I leave here to go to nighty night. Thanks for that!
I have happened across many a so and so who admonishes the thought of boxed cake mixes. It use to bother me but no longer. Fact is, I'm not a baker. I lack the patience for precise measurements and not being able to change things up as much as I would like to. Baking is more scientific to my way of thinking and it simply isn't my thing. And pie crust, oh my forget about it! I just stink at it plain and simple!
I LOVE your pie plate! How cool is that:) I'm sure I would dive right into that pie of yours too. I would love to say I'll be baking this pie some time soon but chances are I won't. More likely I'll be dreaming about it and wishing that I could muster up the courage and patience to give it a go. I can gurantee though it will be the last thing I think about when I lay my head down tonight. Thanks for sharing, Julie.
P.S. I bought one of those pie slicing gizmos once and it just didn't work as well as I thought it should. I just use the excuse the first slice is always a bit messier than the others, lol…
I've considered those pie slicing things, so I'm glad to know they're not worth it. And you should definitely give the pie a chance – I think cream pies are easier to tackle than fruit pies, and even if your custard doesn't quite set, it's still delicious. I certainly wouldn't complain if I had to eat the pie with a spoon instead of a fork since the filling was a little runny – it will still be just as delicious. 🙂
Happy Pi Day!
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I made this according to recipe but only AFTER putting 2 TABLESPOONS of vanilla and seeing my beautiful yellow pudding turn a muddy gold did I begin to think something went wrong. It tastes ok but the color is a little off-putting. After checking other recipes I believe the amount published here is wrong. Just thought you should know.
Sorry you weren’t happy with the outcome, Stephanie! First off, it’s one tablespoon of vanilla into the pudding; the other goes into the whipped cream. One tablespoon may also seem like a lot, but I find that for a banana pie, I want the custard to have a really pronounced vanilla flavor. The typical amount in custards – a teaspoon or two – might be fine for a delicate berry pudding, but the banana flavor is strong in the banana cream pie (which is a good thing for banana pudding, obviously!) so a strong vanilla base compliments it well.
There are a couple of reasons why your custard may have been darker than mine: the brand of vanilla extract can differ in how dark it is, the ripeness of bananas, since riper bananas are a little darker to begin with (so my custard may have been much paler than yours before adding the vanilla extract), or a difference in color of the egg yolks, as the color can vary quite a bit based on the diet of the hens. If you find that you also like the stronger vanilla flavor but the color is off-putting, you can substitute in clear vanilla extract, which is also perfect for any white cakes you may bake!
Horrible recipe!!! I spent forever on it! For it to not set up even after I wait alll night long for it to set. In honestly so mad. The cornstarch amount is obviously way off. It’s soup with a good chocolate shell. Really?
I take it back…. Since tasting it, it is incredible flavor. Just defiantly needs some more cornstarch. Thank you. Sorry for rushing judgment. It’s a keeper.
Sorry you had such difficulty with the custard, but I’m glad you liked the flavor! I’ve made this a few times — and the base comes from Cook’s Country magazine — so the amount of cornstarch is sufficient. As you can see from my photo of the cut pie, it’s definitely soft and pudding-like, but it does hold its shape enough to slice. Did you use a thermometer to confirm that the custard came to 180°? It’s possible yours either didn’t come to a high enough temperature or stay warm for long enough for the pudding to actually set. But adding more cornstarch is definitely another option to overcome this, so you can certainly add more in the future! I also don’t have any experience with high altitude baking, so if you live high up in the mountains, the time and temperature for cooking the custard may also require an adjustment. I’m glad you like the flavor enough to keep the recipe and make it again. 🙂
What kind of pie crust did you use? Did you make your own from scratch? I want to try this recipe for Thanksgiving but don’t know what type of crust to use. Thank you.
Hi Krystyna — I used a regular old pie crust. The link to my favorite recipe, called “no fail pie crust” is in the ingredient list, but you can also use a store bought frozen or refrigerated crust!