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Old-Fashioned Banana Cream Pie

A from-scratch version of an absolute classic.

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I have a few memories of my mom making “Banana Cream Pie” which involved layering Nilla Wafers, instant pudding, and bananas. So, not really much of a pie at all, but more of shortcut no-bake dessert. No matter, because it did one very important thing — it made me fall in love with the glorious combination of fresh bananas, pudding, and whipped cream and was the catalyst for my love of actual Banana Cream Pie which I now make from scratch once or twice a year, the old fashioned way. With an all-butter crust, a homemade pudding, and actual whipped cream, this is a special occasion treat, and it’s certainly one you’ll look forward to.

This is a situation where you definitely want to blind bake your crust. You want a sturdy crust, after all, to hold up all that custard and cream. Just line your pie plate with your rolled out dough to get things started.

My favorite way to blind bake is to line the crust with two overlapping layers of foil so they’re easy to lift out later and then fill it all the way up with dried beans. Pie weights are great but expensive, and dried beans work just as well and are much cheaper. I keep a container in the cupboard for just this purpose. (Uncooked rice works well too!)

The crust will bake for 15 minutes with the foil and beans in and 15 minutes with the foil and beans out. (Prick the crust with a fork in between to keep the crust from bubbling anywhere.) While that cools, you’ll start to work on the custard.

Custard can seem daunting. It’s really just pudding. Don’t be scared. Just whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch and set that aside. Then, in a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the milk, sugar, and salt until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove about a half cup of that mixture and pour it into the egg yolks…

Then slowly pour the new egg yolk mixture back into the milk/sugar mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly while you do it. This is called “tempering” and it’s more or less a way to avoid scrambled eggs.

Keep whisking constantly for about a minute. The mixture will thicken and it might bubble and spit at you, so be careful. But just keep whisking.

Once it’s thick enough, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Then, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit and cool. You want to place the plastic wrap directly on the custard itself to keep a skin from forming. It’ll pull off some custard later when you go to remove it, but that’s no big deal.

After about fifteen minutes of cooling time, slice two bananas and arrange them in the bottom of that baked pie shell.

Then pour that custard over the top.

And, again, cover it in plastic wrap placed directly on the custard. And then chill. As in, chill the pie and you, yourself, can also chill for a while. Because it needs at least four hours in the fridge and overnight is even better.

When you’re ready to serve, it’s time to finish things up. Some people might like a meringue topping here but for me, it’s whipped cream all the way. Just beat heavy cream with some sugar and vanilla and spread it over the top of the custard. (You can pipe it if you’re feeling fancy.)

Right before you serve, top it with a few sliced bananas as the final flourish, but don’t do that too far ahead or they’ll brown.

And no one wants browned bananas!

I spent many years of my life claiming that I didn’t like banana desserts, but what I meant is that I don’t like artificial banana flavor. When an actual banana is combined with creamy vanilla pudding, fluffy whipped cream, and flaky pie crust… well, that’s just heaven on earth.

Yield(s): Yield 1 pie

15m prep time

45m cook time

4h inactive

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  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  • 1 egg
For the filling:
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 bananas, not overripe
For the topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pie crust to about a 12-inch round. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the crust. Trim border to 1 inch, then fold edges under. Crimp or flute edges as desired.
  3. Line pie crust with foil or parchment, then fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake 15 minutes, then remove parchment/foil and pie weights and prick bottom of crust all over with a fork. Return to oven until golden, about 15 minutes more.
  4. Let cool completely. While crust cools, make the filling:
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch. Set aside.
  6. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and salt. Whisk until sugar has dissolved. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, whisking occasionally, then remove 1/2 cup of the mixture.
  7. Slowly pour the 1/2 cup milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks.
  8. Then, slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan, again whisking constantly. Mixture will bubble and thicken, and bubbles may burst, so use caution. Whisk constantly for 1 minute.
  9. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vanilla and butter. If mixture isn't smooth enough, you can pass it through a fine mesh strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on top of pudding to keep a skin from forming. Let cool 15 minutes.
  10. Slice 2 of the bananas and arrange on the bottom of the pie shell.
  11. Spread custard over the bananas, smoothing out with a spatula. Again, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard to keep a skin from forming. Chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24.
  12. When ready to serve, make the topping:
  13. With an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high until medium peaks form.
  14. Pipe or spread whipped cream over the top of the custard.
  15. Slice remaining bananas and top pie as desired. Serve immediately or chill up to 1 hour (though bananas on top will brown a bit if storing).
  16. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction.