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Banana Cream Pie Recipe & Video

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Banana Cream Pie is all about crisp pastry, a velvety smooth vanilla flavored filling, loads of bananas, all covered with fluffy whipped cream. Very appealing, very comforting, and very tasty. It is what I would call an 'All American' type of pie, the one you always see in diners, family restaurants, and bakeries. Only now, with this recipe, you can starting making a Banana Cream Pie at home.

A Banana Cream Pie belongs to the category of 'soft filling' pies popular since the late 19th Century. They were once referred to as "puddings" and they are different from fruit pies in that the crust and filling are cooked separately. These pies can have either a pastry or a graham cracker crust and their toppings may be whipped cream or a meringue. To make a great tasting Banana Cream Pie you need to forget about those store bought pastry crusts, boxes of artificially flavored vanilla pudding, and tubs or cans of whipped cream. We are going to make this classic pie from scratch, and it is easy to make.

This pie begins with a pastry crust, in this case a shortbread crust which does, in fact, taste like a shortbread cookie. It is so easy to make. All you need is to give all the ingredients a quick whirl in your food processor until you see a dough beginning to form. Then press the dough into your tart pan, prick the bottom of the pastry, and place the pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Bake the crust until golden brown and let it cool completely. If you like you can make the crust a day or two before filling. And if you would like to add a little chocolate flavor to this pie, melt 2 ounces (60 grams) of either white or semi sweet chocolate and brush the melted chocolate on the bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell. Then just pop the crust into the refrigerator until the chocolate has hardened (about 5 to 10 minutes).

Next step is the layer of pastry cream, or Crème Patisserie, which is a rich, thick and creamy custard made from a mixture of milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, flour and cornstarch (corn flour). A pastry cream is similar to a custard in that it is cooked on the stove and must be stirred constantly to ensure that it does not curdle, resulting in small pieces of cooked egg in the cream. If you find this happening, simply strain to remove any lumps. Once made, it is best to immediately cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap as this will prevent a skin from forming on the top of the cream. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Before using, warm slightly and whisk to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

So, once you have made and cooled the shortbread crust, and the pastry cream, all you need to do is slice about 2 to 3 bananas and whip the cream. Now, for a Banana Cream Pie you want firm bananas, ones that still have yellow skins. This is not the time to use ripe and soft bananas, with browning skins. And make sure to use cold heavy cream (double cream) which is cream with a 35-40% butterfat content (cream that when whipped holds stiff peaks). Then spread the pastry cream over the cooled crust, cover with the slices of bananas, and pile the cream on top. Now, if you make sure to cover all the cut bananas with some of the cream, the Banana Cream Pie can be made and refrigerated several hours before serving. But if you do not cover the cut bananas completely with cream you will need to serve the Pie right away, as the cut bananas will start to brown. You can dust the top of the pie with shaved chocolate, or even crushed buttercrunch toffee (English Toffee Bits). The perfect comfort food.

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Shortbread Crust: Butter or lightly spray with a nonstick vegetable cooking spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. 

In your food processor, place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps. Place the pastry in the prepared tart pan and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. (Can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the pastry.) Pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.) Cover and place the pastry crust in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. (This will help prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes.)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. 

Place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13 - 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Can be covered and stored for a few days.

Pastry Cream: In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Whisk the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.) Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it just becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the rum (if using). (Stir in vanilla extract if using instead of a vanilla bean.) Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature before using. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Whisk or stir before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Whipped Cream:  Put your mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Then beat the whipping cream,  powdered sugar, and vanilla extract just until stiff peaks form.

To Assemble: Spread pastry cream evenly over cooled crust. Top with sliced bananas. Spread the whipped cream over the bananas. Can dust with cocoa powder, shaved chocolate or chopped buttercrunch toffee. Can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for several hours.

Serves 8 - 10 people. Preparation time 1 hour.

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Shortbread Crust:

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Pastry Cream:

1 1/4 cups (300 ml) milk (whole or 2%)

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons (20 grams) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons (20 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)

1 tablespoon rum (optional)

2-3 large bananas, peeled sliced

Whipped Cream:

1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (contains 35-40% butterfat)

2 tablespoons (20 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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