Tuesday, April 23, 2013

30 Before 30: Banana Cream Pie (#16)

I wanted to try something very new for an ending to our corned beef lunch. I've never made a custard pie before and what better than banana cream pie? The crust was disappointing. I should have stuck with my gut and gone for Thomas Keller's amazing pie crust and rolled it in graham cracker crumbs. The filling though? Magnificent.

Banana Cream Pie via Baking Illustrated:

Makes 1 9-inch pie

For the crust-
1¼ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
1 Tb. sugar
3 Tb. vegetable shortening, chilled
4 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
4-5 Tb. ice water
½ c. graham cracker crumbs (about 8 crackers)

For the filling-
½ c. plus 2 Tb. sugar
¼ c. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. salt
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 c. 2 percent or whole milk
½ c. evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tb. unsalted butter
1-2 tsp. brandy
2 medium bananas

For the topping-
1 c. heavy cream, chilled
1 Tb. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Make the crust first. It needs to be completely baked and cooled before filling it with the custard.

Process the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the shortening and process until the mixture has the texture of coarse sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour mixture; cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse crumbs, with butter bits no larger than small peas, about ten 1-second pulses. Turn the mixture into a medium bowl.

Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture. With a rubber spatula, use a folding motion to mix. Press down on the dough with the broad side of the spatula until the dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon more ice water if the dough does not come together. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days, before rolling.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator (if refrigerated longer than 1 hour, let stand at room temperature until malleable). Roll the dough on a work surface sprinkled with 2 tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs. Continue sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top of the dough as it is rolled, coating the dough heavily with crumbs. Roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate by rolling the dough around the rolling pin and unrolling it over the pan. Working around the circumference of the pie plate, ease the dough into the pan corners by gently lifting the edge of the dough with one hand while gently pressing into the pan bottom with the other hand. Trim the dough edges to extend about ½-inch beyond the rim of the pan. Fold the overhang under itself; flute the dough or press the tines of the fork against the dough to flatten it against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate the dough-lined pie plate until firm, about 40 minutes, then freeze until very cold, about 20 minutes.

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough-lined pie plate from the freezer, press a doubled 12-inch piece of heavy duty foil inside the pie shell, and fold the edges of the foil to shield the fluted edge; distribute 2 cups ceramic or metal pie weights over the foil (or dried beans, like me). Bake, leaving the foil and weight in place until the dough looks dry and is light in color, 25 to 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights by gathering the corners of the foil and pulling up and out. Continue baking until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the filling, whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Add the yolks, then immediately but gradually whisk in the milk and evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly, as the mixture starts to thicken and begins to simmer, 8 to 10 minutes. It seems like it will never happen, but then suddenly it does and it is fantastic change. Once the mixture simmers, continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute longer. Remove the pan from the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla extract, and brandy.

Pour the filling into a shallow pan. Put plastic wrap directly on the filling surface to prevent a skin from forming; cool until warm, 20 to 30 minutes. Pour half of the warm filling into the baked and cooled pie shell. Peel the bananas and slice them over the filling. Top with the remaining filling. Once again place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the filling surface. Refrigerate the pie until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, make the topping. Beat the cream and sugar in a chilled bowl over an electric mixer at medium speed to soft peaks; add the vanilla. Continue to beat to barely stiff peaks. Spread over the filling and serve immediately.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pie. Again, the crust was the weakest part, but the filling was so good, in the end it was just delicious.

Recipes Complete: 16
Recipes to Go: 14

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