In Honor of Pi Day… A Banana Cream Pie

Happy Pi Day! What can I say; I am a bit of a math geek. It was my favorite subject throughout school and I was a Mathematics/Economics major in college. I sometimes think that my love of math is what drives some of my hobbies. Take baking; it’s not like cooking where a pinch of this and that can turn out something great. If an ingredient is slightly off when you bake you may end up with something completely inedible. When you are knitting or crocheting (especially knitting) being off with your count can completely mess up whatever you are making and with beading and jewelry making symmetry is key and adding one extra bead, stone or whatever can completely throw off the aesthetics of the final product. But, back to Pi Day… We celebrate it on this day (March 14th) since the first three numbers of Pi are 3.14. Some other things to note about this lovely number… It’s irrational (meaning it cannot be written as a ratio,) it’s never ending (3.14159…) and the decimal never repeats. So, in honor of this day I decided to bake a pie – how original!?!? – not just any pie though a pie I have never actually tried before – a Banana Cream Pie. I thought about making this pie a few weeks ago when I had a few ripe bananas staring at me in my kitchen, but then they got eaten so I decided to save the pie for today.

So, I had every intention of making my pie crust from scratch, well, let me clarify, I did make one from scratch and although I followed the directions exactly after baking it for slightly less time that directed it still came out a bit overcooked so I just opted to go with a store bought crust and baked it according to the directions on the package. Unfortunately my edge was a little uneven but I knew that wouldn’t take away from the taste.

While the crust was cooling I began making the banana cream filling. To begin I prepped those ingredients that needed a bit of prepping: slicing three bananas, separating four eggs for the yolks and cutting up 2 tbsp. of butter.
In a medium saucepan I combined sugar, cornstarch and salt and then whisked in milk. I cooked this over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture was thick and bubbling.
I then whisked the milk mixture in with the eggs yolks.
After the milk and eggs were completely incorporated I returned the mixture to the saucepan and cooked it over medium heat once again stirring it constantly until it boiled.

I then strained the mixture through a sieve…
And then mixed in the butter and once it was melted I folded in the bananas.

It was then time to pour the banana cream into the cooled pie crust and then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the cream was set.

Once the pie was set I made a whipped cream topping for it and sprinkled it with shaved chocolate curls.

Banana Cream Pie

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour, for dusting

1 recipe Pate Brisee to Make Two 9-Inch Single-Crust Pies or One Double-Crust or Lattice-Crust Pie (http://www.marthastewart.com/258439/pate-brisee), use 1 disc and reserve remaining disc for another use*

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

4 large egg yolks

2 cups whole milk

2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3 ripe bananas, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 block (about 5 ounces) bittersweet chocolate

*I opted to use a store-bought pie crust

Directions

1. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into a 14-inch round (1/4 inch thick). Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Trim dough to extend above edges by 1 inch, fold under, and crimp. Prick bottom with a fork, and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Cut a large round of parchment paper (about 11 inches), and place in pie shell, allowing excess to extend above edges. Fill with pie weights. Freeze until cold, about 10 minutes.

2. Bake crust 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove pie weights and parchment, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack.

3. Make the filling: Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add egg yolks, and whisk until smooth. Bring milk to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup milk to yolk mixture in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Pour mixture into pan with hot milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble and is very thick, about 6 minutes.

4. Pour milk mixture through a large-mesh sieve into a bowl. Add butter, and stir until melted. Fold in bananas. Pour into crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

5. Make the topping: Beat together cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over filling. Using a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon, shape topping into peaks.

6. Using a vegetable peeler, shave chocolate at a 45-degree angle, and scatter over pie. (You will only need about 1 ounce of chocolate for the shavings, but it will be easier to shave if you start with a larger piece than you need.) Serve.