My trouble is, I can never choose my favourite, because when my mom made it, she would often make a chocolate version that also had bananas. So you can see my dilemma.
So, in the ultimate banana pie throw down, I decided to make both. One for a visiting cousin, and one for a dinner party the next night.
I would normally make both the crust and the filling from store bought packages of pudding mix, and in my early years of cream pies, would even use instant pudding to avoid the stove work. Instant pudding has a chemical taste that I can't bear anymore, but given my Food Inc. and In Defense of Food commitment to eating real food with ingredients I can find in my pantry, I knew I had to make it from scratch. Well, almost... I was running out of time, so I did buy the crust. I know, I know... I feel bad about it and next time I promise myself I won't do it.
I've been relying so much on EatingWell.com, but decided it's time to mix it up a bit. So I went a searching and found Food.com, and this recipe for Old-fashioned Banana Cream Pie as the basis for my vanilla version. This isn't low fat, but for a cream pie, it's not crazy loaded with fat either. My belief is if you're making a cream pie, it needs to be creamy. Whole milk isn't a bad thing to cook with in my world. I just wouldn't drink it (not that I drink milk anyway) or even use it in my cereal or coffee.
I find store-bought pie crust dough is essentially a cardboard-tasting pie holder, but I was pressed for time, so I bought two graham cracker crusts. Normally I would use a traditional crust for vanilla, but the way to go for chocolate is graham cracker I think. I love the saltiness of the butter and the crumbly texture of the graham flour. It's wonderful against the rich flavour of chocolate.
I chose the recipe from Food.com because I wanted to avoid cornstarch. Probably not necessary, just my preference. It also seemed relatively straight-forward to make.
I was making two pies, so I knew I'd need two pots, but what to do for a second recipe that's chocolate? Well, I looked online for recipes and they were essentially the same, but with chocolate powder and baking chocolate, so I just followed the EatingWell addition to their Chocolate-Banana Dream Pie of 3 tbsp cocoa and an ounce of semi-sweet chocolate (EW's recipe called for bittersweet and Kahlua, but I didn't have either).
Rather than scald the milk (I wasn't exactly sure what that meant —heated to boiling?), I whisked the milk, sugar, flour and salt together in the pot before heating and then did slowly added the egg yolks; everything worked very well. I just made sure I whisked the mixture slowly and mostly constantly throughout. The recipe in this blog has been changed to reflect this.
Then when I did the second pie I added the chocolate in with the butter and vanilla. So far so good.
Since I had egg whites I decided to go ahead and make a meringue for the pies. It's so pretty, why not?! A word about meringues. Don't over-beat, or they get hard. The pie in front is my less beaten meringue (with soft moldable peaks) and the one behind is over-beaten (and looks more like something carved out of styrofoam). Still tastes the same, but not as attractive. Best to stop whipping when the egg whites and sugar form stiff but still shiny peaks. This recipe didn't say you needed to baked the meringue, but I changed it below.
We ate the vanilla pie last night and it was awesome! Because we had guests I felt awkward taking out the camera and snapping photos like I normally do before eating, but here's a pic of the leftovers, without meringue.
The meringue was a bit weepy (which I forgot happens unless you add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to the egg whites) but not really an issue. The pie held up very well, except for a slice I gave to myself. The meringue didn't really hold onto the pie, but it all tasted pretty darn good!
|The bananas are on the bottom. Mmmmm!|
And what about the chocolate version, you ask? Well, as much as I hate to admit that chocolate doesn't always win hands down, the vanilla version was better with the bananas and the meringue. I found the chocolate version not quite chocolaty enough, and the banana flavour was overpowered by the chocolate. So much for a childhood favourite. In the future, when I make a chocolate pie (as I'm sure my creamy and chocolaty needs will once again dictate), I will probably look for a pie recipe that is specifically chocolate pie, and will likely top it off with whipped cream, rather than meringue. Oh, and I will definitely serve the pie the same day. The combination of the meringue weeping, and a full day of the pudding being on the crust, made it kind of disintegrate.
|Serious disintegration, but still tasty!|
Old-fashioned Banana Cream Pie
By Lennie on November 28, 2001
Photo by run for your life
About This Recipe
"Before cool whip and instant pudding, this is how a cream pie was made. If you leave out the bananas, you have vanilla cream pie. If you add 1 cup shredded coconut to milk as it's being heated, you have coconut cream pie."
- 1 9-inch pie shell, baked (or graham wafer crust, if preferred)
- 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(if making a chocolate pie, add 3 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder and 1 oz. fine baker's chocolate here)
- 3 bananas
- Have baked 9-inch pie shell ready.
- In a large saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, flour and salt.
- Over medium heat, stirring constantly, cook until thickened.
- Cover and, stirring occasionally, cook for two minutes longer.
- 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.
- Cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and blend in the butter, vanilla and chocolate if using.
- Let sit until lukewarm.
- When ready to pour, slice bananas and scatter in pie shell; pour warm mixture over bananas.
- If desired, make a meringue (you'll have 3 leftover egg whites) to top the pie, or just let the pie cool until serving. To make meringue, slowly add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to the egg whites, beating until stiff, shiny peaks form. Spread the meringue over the filling, sealing to the edge of the crust. Make attractive peaks. Bake until the top is browned, about 15 minutes. Cool the pie in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving.
So there you have it, Banana Cream Pie two ways! Which is your favourite?
All in all, I have to be honest, except for assembling the ingredients, making the pie from scratch wasn't much more work, but it was definitely worth the end result and knowing I wasn't eating anything I couldn't pronounce!
Enjoy your next food experience,
Here's the recipe for Chocolate Cream Pie for next time: