Late Summer Fantasy: Banana Cream Pie with Oh, So Flaky Crust

I had completely intended to post before today, but somehow, the time gets away from me.  There’s also something about the month of August in general.  It’s hot, the luster of summer has faded, and everyone seems to be waiting for the inevitable fall and all that it entails:  school, pencils, books, and getting back to more serious things.  Fall is my favorite season in spite of what I’ve already mentioned; what little we have here in the way of foliage does actually turn golden and red, and I enjoy it every year, wishing there was more.  The dampness in the air that settles on the leaves in early morning, and spider’s webs in bushes are a telltale sign.  An afternoon sky more likely to have large, white puffy clouds is also familiar.  But it’s only just a promise of what’s to come, as we’ve still got our hottest months ahead.  So cruel, the month’s of September and October, but I can dream, can’t I?

So in the spirit of dreaming of things to come, a bit of comfort food will help prolong the fantasy:  Banana Cream Pie.  Mmmm…what else can I do with those sweet, yellow pieces of fruit that are just beyond the point that anyone here wants to peel and eat?  Pie is perfect, of course.  Even in warm weather, because, only the crust has to be baked, and then filled with that luscious custard and cream.  Ahhh…and chilled.  What a nice surprise for my husband who absolutely loves banana cream pie.  Me?  I’d prefer coconut, because often, the banana cream pie we’ve had has been purchased, and it isn’t quite right.  The crust is soggy, the cream tastes of something artificial.  In a moment of weakness, I’ve purchased one, and then after the first piece, no one is interested in finishing it.

That wasn’t the case with this pie.  It was inhaled with lip-smacking gusto and love for dessert after dinner, for breakfast the next morning, and as an afternoon treat. I never met a calorie I didn’t like.  *sigh*

So when I saw those forlorn bananas sitting in my fruit bowl, I went on a cookbook hunt for a banana cream pie recipe.  It didn’t take long for me to choose Susan Branch’s recipe printed in her "All Dessert Keepsake Book," Sweets to the Sweet."  Her recipes are gloriously uncomplicated and perfect for a morning task I hadn’t expected to be involved in.  However, her recipe only refers to a pie shell and doesn’t provide a recipe for one in particular to bake with the pie.  Actually, she references a recipe elsewhere in the book, but it accompanies an apple pie, baked in the crust.  I didn’t want to mess around with deciding how long to bake it by itself, and then messing it up.  Yes, I know you’re thinking that it’s much too easy a cooking task to mess up, but I’m a firm believer in Murphy’s Law at times, and this was one of them.

For years, when I’ve baked a pie, I’ve always made the crust that accompanied the recipe in a mindless sort of way.  Perhaps it was just easier than finding "the perfect" pie crust and then using it each time.  I’m so accustomed to trying new things, the whole idea seemed odd.  But I’ve gotten to the point where I do want to have particular recipes in my repertoir, to rely upon and to look forward to.  So now was the time.

I went to Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and the "Flaky Pie Dough."  I was attracted by the variety of ways I could choose to make the dough, the simple directions, and the "Tips on Perfect Pie Dough" that rounded out the information.  I chose to make the dough in my cuisinart following the directions exactly and was thrilled with the results.

Maybe I could talk Dorie into writing the directions for "How to Take Better Food Photos" so you might actually see how lovely this pie was.  Sometimes I forget to alter the setting and don’t realize it until the food has been eaten, and I’ve nothing but dark or fuzzy shots to deal with. I’ve been working on that…

Leslie Mackie’s Flaky Pie Dough


5-1/4 cups pastry OR all-purpose flour
1 T kosher salt
1-1/2 sticks (6 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1-3/4 (11 oz.) solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 c. ice water

Directions for Making Dough in a Food Processor

Start with very cold ingredients and take care not to overwork them. 

  1. Place the dry ingredients in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse just to mix. 
  2. Take the top off, scatter the chilled cubed butter and shortening over the flour, cover, and pulse again, working only until the fats are cut in and the mixture resembles slightly moist cornmeal. 
  3. Add a little of the liquid and pulse a few times, then add more liquid and pulse again. 
  4. Continue until the mixture has curds and clumps and sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Don’t process until the dough forms a ball that rides on the blade — that’s overdoing it.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for as long as 5 days.  When the dough is thoroughly chilled and firm, it is ready to roll out and use in any recipe calling for flaky pie crust.

Img_2631 Img_2657

Img_2659 To Bake the Crust, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Fit a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil into the pan and fill with rice, dried beans, or pie weights.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned.  Remove the paper and weights and cool the shell to room temperature on a rack before filling.

Susan Branch’s Banana Cream Pie


1/2 c. sugar
6 T flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2-1/2 c. milk
2 egg yolks
1 T butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 ripe bananas
1 baked 9" pie shell
1/2 c. shredded coconut (optional)
1-1/2 c. cream, whipped


  1. Mix sugar, flour & salt in the top part of a double boiler.  Gradually stir in milk and cook over boiling water — stir constantly until thickened.  Cover & cook 10 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. 
  2. Beat egg yolks & add to them a small amount of milk mixture.  Return mixture to the double boiler & cook for 2 minutes over hot, not boiling, water.  Stir constantly.  Remove from hear — stir in butter & extract.  Cool. 
  3. Slice 2 bananas into bottom of pie shell and arrange evenly.  pour cooked mixture over bananas and refrigerate. 
  4. Spread coconut on a cookie sheet and toast at 350 degrees — it burns easily so stir often. 
  5. Before serving, cover pie with whipped cream, arrange remaining sliced banana around the edge of pie, and put the toasted coconut in the center.


I decided not to use the coconut for the pie.  It does sound lovely, though, and would be a great compromise in the debate on whether to enjoy banana cream, or coconut cream.  The problem is, if coconut was on the pie in any form, I’d have to eat the whole thing.  I could think of worse ways to die.


And just in case you wondered just how flaky the the crust is…take a look.  Unbelievable.