Monday, July 11, 2011

Who doesn't like pie?

I have grown to really enjoy making pie.  In the process, I am slowly getting better with pie crust.  I have a favorite recipe for an all-butter crust, and I am working to make it tender and flaky every time.  I am not, however, good at making the edges pretty.  I always seem to trim the edges too close to the pie plate, not giving myself enough room to crimp the edges properly.  They always come out looking a little wonky, but they still taste great.

I made this pie to take to dinner at my parents’ house.  I’m not entirely sure why I chose banana cream pie, other than I saw a picture of one and it just looked so good, I had to make it.  I found this recipe on Annie’s Eats, and, like everything on her site, it does not disappoint.  If you go to her site, you can see her recipe for pie crust, which I’m sure is great, but I used my favorite, which I printed below.  It is actually for a double-crust, so it will make twice as much as you need.  You can either halve the recipe or you can freeze the extra.  The recipe came from America’s Test Kitchen’s “Family Baking Book”. I decided to add a thin layer of dark chocolate to the inside of the crust, for no real reason other than my love of the chocolate/banana combo.  You certainly don’t have to do this, but if you do, it’s pretty easy.  I just melted a couple of ounces of dark chocolate in a double boiler, and then spread it in the baked pie crust.  I let the whole thing cool so that the chocolate could harden before I started adding the filling.  The end result was pretty darn tasty. 

Banana Cream Pie

For the Crust:
1/3 cup ice water, plus extra as needed
3 tablespoons sour cream
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and frozen for 10 to 15 minutes

For the pastry cream:
2 cups whole milk (I used 2%, because that’s what we had, and it worked just fine)
6 large egg yolks
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut into bits

3 ripe but firm bananas, plus extra for garnish

For the topping:
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.     Mix 1/3 cup of the ice water and sour cream together in a small bowl until combined. Process the flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until combined (add the pumpkin pie spice at this step, if using).  Scatter the butter pieces over the top about pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of large peas, about 10 pulses.
2.     Pour half of the sour cream mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses.  Repeat with the remaining sour cream mixture.  Pinch the dough with your fingers; if the dough feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons more ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains, 3 to 5 pulses.
3.     Divide the dough into 2 even pieces.  Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten each into a 4-inch disk.  Wrap each piece tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. 
4.     Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Transfer the chilled dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough into a thin round large enough to fit a 9-inch round pie plate. Carefully transfer the dough to the pie plate, trim the edges and use your thumb and fingers to crimp the edge. Cover with a piece of foil or parchment paper, and fill the pie plate with baking beads (dried beans or rice works too). Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the crust is nearly set. Remove the foil and baking beads and bake the crust uncovered for 5 more minutes, or until it is completely baked and light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
5.     In the meantime, make the pastry cream. Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about ¼ cup of the hot milk to temper the eggs so that they don’t curdle. Then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and, still whisking constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Allow to boil, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes before removing from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold (this can be a day or two ahead).
6.     When you are ready to assemble the pie, peel the bananas and cut them diagonally into ¼ inch thick slices. Whisk the chilled custard to loosen it, then spread about a quarter of it over the cooled pie crust. Top with a layer of banana slices. Repeat, adding a thin layer of pastry cream and the remaining bananas, then smooth the rest of the pastry cream over the last layer of bananas.
7.     To make the topping, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream just until it starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks. Spoon the topping over the pie filling and spread to cover the edges of the custard. Garnish with extra banana slices, if desired.  Slice and serve (this pie is best eaten the day it is made).

1 comment:

  1. I'll give you a hint. ;-) Don't trim the edges. Fold the big parts under to crimp them. And the key to flakiness is don't play with it too much. Cut it together, get it in a ball, and roll it out in as few passes of the rolling pin as possible.

    My mom's a pie crust maven. I learned from her.