Taste The Best Ever Banana Cream Pie

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From diner classic to homemade favorite, banana cream pie is an absolute standard in the world of pies. Many shortcut versions rely on a graham cracker crust and vanilla pudding; but this recipe pairs a real pastry crust with homemade cream filling — for what we hope will be your best banana cream pie experience yet! While it's optional, of course, freshly whipped cream is a wonderful complement to this pie.

Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or pastry flour blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons shortening
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk, whole milk preferred
  • 6 tablespoons room-temperature or soft butter
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 1 1/2 to 2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced 1/2" thick

Instructions:

For the crust:

Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in until the mixture is evenly crumbly.

Add the butter to the flour mixture, and work it in roughly with your fingers, a pastry cutter, or a mixer. Don't be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones.

Add 2 tablespoons of water, and toss to combine. Toss with enough additional water to make a chunky mixture. It should barely hold together when you squeeze a handful, though the remainder may look quite dry.

Scoop the mixture out onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper, and flatten it out a bit. Take a spray bottle of water, and spritz the dry parts with the water.

Using the parchment or waxed paper, fold the dough over on itself — first from one side, then from the other. You'll find that the dry crumbs are becoming incorporated with the cohesive dough. If there are still dry areas, spritz them with additional water, and fold the dough in on itself again. Keep folding and gathering until just a few dry crumbs remain unincorporated; this should only take a few folds.

Shape the dough into a disk about 1" thick, and refrigerate it for 30 minutes or longer; this resting period allows the flour to absorb the water, making the dough easier to roll out.

For the filling:

Roll chilled pie dough into a 12" to 13" circle, and settle it into a 9" pie pan that's at least 1 1/2" deep. Crimp the crust, making either a flat edge with the tines of the fork, or a standup rim using your fingers. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes, to relax the gluten; this will help prevent it from shrinking as it bakes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Remove the pie from the refrigerator, and prick its bottom surface all over with a fork; this will help keep it flat. Line the crust with a piece of waxed paper or parchment (a 9" parchment cake round works well), and fill with dried beans, rice, pie weights, or the oven-safe, food-safe weights of your choice.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven, remove the weights and paper, and continue to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until it's golden brown across the bottom. Remove the crust from the oven, and cool it on a rack while you make the filling.

To make the filling: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cornstarch, salt, and eggs, whisking until smooth.

In a medium-sized saucepan, bring the milk just to a boil.

Gradually add the hot milk to the egg mixture, stirring all the while.

Return the egg/milk mixture to the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and starts to boil; this will happen quite quickly, so don't leave the stove to do other chores.

Remove the pastry cream from the heat, and stir in the extract(s) and butter.

Place the sliced bananas in the bottom of the pie crust. Spoon the hot pastry cream over the bananas, Smooth the surface, and cover it with plastic wrap — or with the same piece of parchment you used to line the crust while it was baking.

Refrigerate the pie until it's completely cold; the filling will thicken and set.

Serve the pie cold, with whipped cream if desired.

Source: kingarthurflour.com
Image courtesy: shutterstock.com

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