Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: Banana Cream Pie


This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Banana Cream Pie, chosen by Amy of Sing for Your Supper . Since this is the only non-chocolate TWD dessert for the entire month of April, I went into this one really hoping that my non-chocolate eating hubs would enjoy it, because if he didn't, it would be May before he gets another dessert (at least from my oven!)

There are three parts to this recipe: the crust, the custard, and the topping. We'll start from the bottom.

THE CRUST

I had a single recipe of Dorie's Good for Almost Anything Pie Crust in my freezer, left over from the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie that we made in late November. I had some serious doubts about using it, because (1) Dorie says that the crust can stay in the freezer for up to two months, and I'd exceeded that by a good margin, and (2) there was potentially a substantial amount of bad juju tied up in that crust, given what happened with my Twofer Pie. I am extremely superstitious by nature. As a recovered sports fanatic (when I was a kid, I would cry if the Yankees or my hometown UConn Huskies lost) I firmly believe that I have the power to affect the outcome of a game based on where I am sitting or what I am doing during the game. I know this only because there have been numerous occasions over the years when my team has been tearing it up on the field/court while I sat on the end of the sofa with my arms crossed and my feet up on the ottoman facing west, only to fall apart as soon as I got up to get a drink. It is a terrible burden to have that kind of power. All of that energy spent worrying about how my popcorn bowl placement was affecting Mike Mussina's slider eventually chipped away at my enjoyment of the game, and somewhere along the way I realized that I derive no pleasure, only pain, out of watching sports. So I quit paying attention. I knew that I was fully reformed when UConn lost in the Final Four this past weekend (I did not watch the game), and I remained completely impassive as I scanned over the front page of our local paper's Sunday Sports section while en route to my favorite weekly stop, the Letters to the Sports Editor (which are written primarily by highly impassioned people who are convinced that our sportswriters are disrespecting Alabama or Auburn and favoring the other school).

So being a superstitious person, I struggled mightily with the thought of using a crust that might be permanently tainted by its association with that previous pie making experience (which involved, among other things, a horrifically burnt pie crust, undercooked filling, and injury to my person that culminated in a sloppy self-surgery right there on the kitchen counter). But ultimately, my lazy nature reigned supreme, and I decided to take my chances with the frozen crust.


All I had to do was roll out the crust and then fully bake it. How hard could that be? I swear that when I put the unbaked crust into the pie dish, there was plenty of dough and it completely covered the edges of the pie dish; in fact, it hung over the edges. But somehow it shrunk when it baked. Note the fissures and the portions of the edges that are lacking crust completely. I am sure a science-minded person out there could turn this into a teachable moment, but I am at a loss to explain what happened. It really looked sad and pitiful, and had some seriously overdone portions around the edges (to the extent that there were any edges). But I decided that it would just have to do, and I forged ahead to

THE CUSTARD

I feel like at this point I have baked enough different things to be able to say with authority that I really don't enjoy making custard. It involves stirring eggs over heat, and that is just fraught with danger for me. They could scramble at any moment. Dorie has you pour a little bit of hot milk into the egg mixture to temper the egg yolks so they won't curdle. That sounds great in theory, but I still set my odds of messing that up at about fifty/fifty. Fortunately, the egg yolk tempering gods were smiling on me that day, and it worked fine.


After the eggs are tempered, you have to continue to whisk the egg mixture vigorously while pouring the rest of the milk into the egg mixture in a steady stream. I don't know about anyone else, but for me whisking vigorously is a two-handed job in and of itself. I whisk with one hand and hold the pan handle with the other. So once I have to add in the additional task of pouring milk steadily from another heavy pan while whisking, I start to feel like I need more hands than Octomom. It is just not a physically comfortable process. Anyway, while the custard making process was not remotely enjoyable, it seemed to do its custard thing, and for that, I was grateful. I stuck it in the fridge for a while. When I was ready to assemble it, I whipped together

THE TOPPING

Which is essentially a super fabulous whipped cream that I was far too busy licking off my fingers to photograph.

THE FEEDBACK

David's parents were visiting this weekend, so they got to try some of the banana cream pie. It was so great to have some other tasters for a change, because honestly, even I get seriously bored reading about what David and I think about these desserts week in and week out. Both David's mom and dad seemed to really enjoy the pie. David's dad had another piece on night two, and said that while he would typically not order banana cream pie in a restaurant, he would order THIS banana cream pie in a restaurant if he knew ahead of time how great it would be. Isn't he the coolest?

It was obvious to me that my hubs REALLY enjoyed the banana cream pie, but he did qualify his praise by saying "you know, it's like chartreuse." I realize that "it's like chartreuse" might seem like a non sequitur in the context of banana cream pie evaluation, but David and I have been together long enough that we have pretty much formed our own shorthand/code for communicating with each other. So I knew immediately that what David was saying, fully translated, was: "you know what they say about chartreuse: if you look good in chartreuse, you'll look even better in a color other than chartreuse. I think this banana cream pie is really, really good, but if I think this banana cream pie is really, really good, I'll think a dessert other than banana cream pie is even better."

I tend to think of banana cream pie as the chartreuse of the dessert world myself, but this one has me rethinking that position. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of this. Each component was fabulous on its own, even the crust (which looked cursed, but did not taste cursed), and they came together beautifully to form an extraordinarily delicious dessert. Despite how rich and heavy this actually is (chock full 'o the usual suspects: cream, egg yolks, butter) it tastes light and refreshing, and it goes down SO easily. I felt no pain whatsoever as I consumed my cholesterol allotment for the quarter. It was so worth it.

Thanks for this great pick, Amy! You can find the recipe on Amy's blog, and for a couple of hundred other interpretations of this pie, be sure to check out the Tuesdays with Dorie blogroll!

52 comments:

n.o.e said...

How wonderful that all of your tasters liked/loved this pie. Great post; I was nodding and/or chuckling throughout. I thought the Octomom quip was funny until I got to the chartreuse analysis! What a useful concept, and exactly how I feel about this particular dessert.

My pie crust was left from the twofer pie also, and it too shrank like a fiend. It would have been a problem with a liquid filling that needed to bake, but a custard, thankfully, did just fine. I'm thinking this is my last time using Dorie's pie crust, but her tart crust is amazing.
Nancy

Steph said...

I'm up trying to finish a research paper that is due..soon! I just had to come over to see what you had to say about this pie. Now i'm all awake and ready to pull this all nighter..haha. Thanks for all the laughs! I'm glad everyone enjoyed it.

Debinhawaii said...

Great post! (Although I was hoping you could find a way to sneak the Darcy coming out of the lake photo in now that you have convinced me you like him for his mind!) ;-) Your pie looks delicious! I am a big fan of banana cream!

Cristine said...

Glad the pie turned out great for you. I loved this week's recipe! Your pie looks so yummy!

Natashya said...

I had crust issues too - and I made my dough that morning.
So glad yours turned out so well, and that the inlaws were there to get suitably spoiled and impressed!

Amanda said...

I loved your commentary! LOL I've known some other sports fans like you ;0) Glad you enjoyed the pie too!

Jamie said...

Oh I am glad everyone liked the pie! We thought this was tasty as well even though I completely deconstructed it!

Jessica said...

Cathy, that post was too funny. I haven't managed to shrug off my sports-fan superstitions so I was laughing so hard at yours. I felt the same way when I was making the custard. Like, wait, shouldn't Dorie have said: grab another person to help you at this point? I'm so glad that you all enjoyed the pie.

Marthe said...

Sounds like you realy had fun making this pie ;)

Teanna said...

I think your chartreusian (new word) banana cream pie looks AWESOME.

And seriously, can you get back to sitting on the end of the couch with your arms crossed and facing westwards some more? The Yankees have been hurting for years and I think the fact that you haven't been watching could be the reason for it!

myfamousrecipe said...

Yup, I'm confronted by those "teachable moments" all too often myself, though I don't always learn as much as I probably should!

Maria said...

Glad you got to share this one with others. It looks great. I really want to try this one, Josh really doesn't like bananas though. I am sure I can pawn it off on someone else:)

spike. said...

Yankees fan? Not sure if I can visit your blog anymore. On second thought, I became a much less intense sox fan after the world series win. I'm trying to be more zen about sports- so I'll just forget about the yankees comment. Glad eveyone liked the pie!

Andrea said...

I'm so glad that this one was a winner for you guys! I had to smile at your father-in-law's comment because that's exactly how I feel about this pie. It was a really nice surprise this week in our month 'o chocolate with TWD. Your had me laughing with regards to being a recovering sports fanatic. My mom is that way and thinks that she causes Michigan State to lose because she is watching the game. She feels that if she stops watching they will do better, but she continues to watch and hope for the curse to be broken...

Kimberly Johnson said...

Add me to the list of shrinkage victims. I ended up putting my pie crust in the garbage and making a graham cracker crust. YUM! Your pie looks great!

Mary Ann said...

I am so glad the custard worked and that everyone loved it!
It looks delicious and how fun that you got to share with your in-laws.
That is a pretty huge compliment from your father-in-law.

Megan said...

Whenever I hear the term shrinkage, I always think of the Seinfeld episode when George experienced shrinkage because it was cold outside.

So maybe the crust shrank because it was cold in the kitchen? :)

Michelle said...

I didn't have any problem with Dorie's crust although I subbed vodka/water and lard/shortening...maybe that was the difference.

Any ways your pie looks delish and I like the sprinkling on top.

Sara said...

Don't feel too bad about your pie dough. Take a look at my colossal failure from last week - http://www.imafoodblog.com/index.php/2009/04/03/sara-fail

Sabrina said...

Fabulous job!
Everytime I make this one, people rave!
It's a keeper!

Karen said...

Don't you love it that you have been together long enough to have your own communication shorthand! :) Such fun. Glad this came together so well and that everyone likes it so much!

Kayte said...

Ah, so YOU are the one to blame for UCONN losing and ousting my very respectable fourth place in the office pool at said time, sending me to the depths of "You just lost your two buck entry fee and any hope you had of scoring cash...." It's nice to have someone to blame other than the players. I forgive you. Sort of. Yep, my pie crust shrunk down also and all the beautiful(?) edging I did just seemed to melt away in the oven...I must be doing something wrong as Dorie's looked lovely. I am with you on this living on the edge when making custard thing arises...over at Whisk Wednesdays they are forever having us whisk egg yolks into something hot and I have learned that the double boiler (when I can actually locate all the corresponding parts) is my best friend. My. Best. Friend. Anyway, your pie looks great...and from the sounds of it, it tasted great also!

Flourchild said...

How sweet your family enjoyed the pie so much they had seconds! I loved this pie too and thought my peanut butter crust really made it yummy!

Katherine Aucoin said...

I would order banana cream pie in a restaurant. Once my oven gets fixed I am making this! I'll be in Elvis, banana heaven!

Bridgett said...

Glad to hear your testers liked it! Banana cream pie is always a decadent treat and we love it in my house.

farah said...

Lol, great post! I'm so glad the baking gods were with you this week. I really liked this pie too!

Audrey said...

OK, I think I'm with you, I have two friends who have very neutral coloring (pale skin, dark or silver hair), and because of that they look good in every color, including chartreuse. What's going to keep me up nights now is trying to figure out whether they'd like b.c.p. or not. I may even have to rewind, secretly serve this, and test the theory. But it's lovely that you (two) know what you mean!

P.S. I just started reading (actually, listening to) The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett, a continuation of P&P that was written by the woman who wrote The Thorn Birds. It's really good...and early on (as far as I've gotten) she's painting Darcy as a creep. It's fascinating!

Liz said...

I love your entries...while I sometimes skip reading the text in other people's posts (shhh, don't tell) I always read every word of yours, because you make me laugh. Chartreuse. hee hee hee.

chocolatechic said...

Almost every TWD that I have read today that made Dorie's crust had shrinkage.

leanne said...

I put mine in a mini tart pan and about every three minutes took it out to smoosh it back into place. It kept wanting to shrink, but I wouldn't let it. I know you probably aren't supposed to do that for some baking reason but it is was all I could do to keep it from shrinking.

Jennifer said...

I am superstitious, too, but mainly due to a belief that "if I worry about it, it won't happen." I think this comes from hearing "'blank' happened when I LEAST suspected," in reference to tragic deer hunting incidents, car accidents, etc... And I agree, it is exhausting!
But, back to pie, I really liked this pie, too, and didn't have a crust shrinkage problem, but also did not use frozen dough.

natalia said...

Dear Cathy ! Thank you for having me laugh a bit in days were I'm upset and sometimes even scared. I love the chartreuse theory.

Pamela said...

How sweet of your FIL to say that about the pie. What a nice compliment for a kick ass baker!! Great job, Cathy.

The Blonde Duck said...

I think it's cool you make all these fabulous desserts week after week. Your trials always make me giggle!

Heather said...

i'm still laughing from the chatreuse comment! you guys crack me up! the pie looks very pretty (and yummy!)

Anne said...

I'm glad you liked it! I'm with you on the chocolate April recipes (and just didn't tell my husband how many there were!)

pinkstripes said...

Yay! Other tasters! I'm with you with the pouring and whisking at the same time. How do recipe writers actually expect people to do that?

I'm glad the pie was a success.

Di said...

I've only made Dorie's pie crust once, and it wasn't very cooperative. So I don't think it's you. =) I'm glad the finished pie was a hit, though. I enjoy watching some sports, but have never been particularly obsessive about it. Jamie, on the other hand, is definitely the superstitious sort, and gets very emotional about his favorite teams. Brianna and Gillian already have their own Steelers jerseys (though it's probably time for bigger ones, come next season). =)

vibi said...

I'm literaly rolling on the floor in laughter.... Boy! that superstition bit is killing me.

And David is totaly right, the pie was... just like chartreuse! (I can hear and Anglophone person say "chawr-trooz"!!! LOL lol

Nevertheless, I'm glad you enjoyed it! Great job, Cathy!

Katrina said...

Glad it was well liked. That darn crust!
Your writing is always so great and fun to read. Thanks!

Elyse said...

Haha, I love your chartreuse metaphor. How hysterical! You and David sound like an awesome couple. Your pie certain looks yummy, and hey, your eggs didn't scramble!! Yay for a perfect custard!

jesse said...

Ooo, lovely lovely pie! I love your chartreuse description... hahaha!

Linda said...

...chartreuse of the dessert world... I love how you think!

I'm glad you enjoyed this delicious pie...and thanks for your entertaining post. :)

Gabe's Girl said...

Am I the only one that had to look up what the color chartreuse looks like? Great job, Cathy! I would have used the November pie crust as well. I, too, like having other opinions besides my immediate flock.
Fun, fun, fun.

shortbreadsouth.com said...

My crust didn't turn out pretty, either. From seeing others' do the same, I will probably use a different recipe (Martha's) that works for me every time.

Tracey said...

Yep, my crust shrank too! Great post. Glad you enjoyed the pie :)

bakingwiththeboys said...

I don't think it's necessarily you screwing up the pie crust. I think it tastes great but have never mastered the skills to make look it good. Love the chartreuse analysis. Never would have thought of it that way but so true!

Barbara said...

Banana Cream Pie, oh my.

TeaLady said...

Pie crust is pie crust. Looks don't count when it gets covered up with a delicious looking pie. You make me giggle!!!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Looks like you impressed the in-laws! Always a good thing!

Annette said...

Your pie looks delicious! I had some issues of my own while making this pie, but in the end, it tasted great. And normally I don't care for banana cream pie!

Cakelaw said...

I'm with you on that pie crust - I disliked it so much when I made the Twofer Pie that I skipped it for this and made my all time favourite, the pate sable, instead. You ended up with a fab looking pie and the proof is in the eating - and it was a winner, which is all that counts!

 
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