5 hours ago
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
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.
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
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
Which is essentially a super fabulous whipped cream that I was far too busy licking off my fingers to photograph.
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!