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