Have you ever watched someone take their first bite of banana cream pie? They taste. Their eyelashes flutter closed. They sigh. They moan. And then, they dive in for more. It's downright risqué. In fact, the only thing better than eating banana cream pie might be making one, knowing that you'll be bringing happiness and pleasure to the world.
Great banana cream pies are built from the pie plate up, and it's the crust that really can make it or break it. I've tried versions with crusts made from the crumbs of graham crackers or 'Nilla wafers, but they tend to get soggy on the bottom, especially if the pie has been sitting for any length of time. For me, there's no substitute for a crisp, flaky, all-butter pie crust to provide textural contrast to the creamy filling and topping. I blind bake the crust to a deep golden brown, so it's crispy all over, then pop it out of the pie plate, so the pie is freestanding.
Next comes the filling. Growing up, I'd only experienced banana cream pie made from banana flavored Jello-o pudding, so it was a bit of a revelation the first time I made one the "real" way—by layering rich homemade vanilla pudding with whipped cream folded in for lightness with sliced bananas, parfait style.
By some magic, the banana flavor infuses so perfectly into the filling that you can't tell where the bananas end and the pudding begins. I like waiting for the bananas to turn the "just right" color—deep yellow, but without many brown spots, so the banana flavor is fresh and true.
Top with sweetened whipped cream or cream or whipped mascarpone topping, and spread some unadulterated pie pleasure.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.