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Mmmm, mmm… Time for Pie

Yes, I am still alive.  Cleaning might have done me in!  But I’m back… and I’ve got pie with me.

Last week one of my dearest friends had a new, sweet little baby boy.  And yesterday I made her dinner along with one of her favorite desserts- Banana Cream Pie.

Here in Utah, the Lion House restaurant has long been known for their delicious, old-fashioned rolls and pies.  I recently received their new bakery cookbook, Lion House Bakery as a gift.  The book comes with a DVD that shows baking techniques and tips… it is really wonderful.

It includes the Banana Cream Pie recipe that my mom has made for years… with a few changes made to the recipe.

The recipe is a basic cream pie which you can make into Coconut or Banana Cream.

Trust me, this recipe is a winner.

The first step yesterday was making my mom’s Perfect Pie Crust.  Prebake the crust in a 400 degrees oven for 12 – 15 minutes, until golden brown.

My mom’s recipe makes two pie shells… just perfect for this Banana Cream recipe.

Whenever I make a pie crust, I never throw away the cut away scraps of dough.  I always put them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar.  Then bake them for about 10 minutes at whatever the temperature my oven is set at for the pie I’m about to bake.  I bake them until they are golden brown and watch them disappear.  Waste not.

Now for the Banana Cream Pie filling.  This recipe makes two pies.  It is very easy to make one pie Banana Cream and the other Coconut Cream.

Start by measuring out 4 cups milk- pour about 3 of the cups into a large saucepan and reserve 1 cup to mix with your cornstarch later.  Pour 2 cups half and half, 2 tablespoons butter and 3/4 cup sugar into the saucepan.

Here’s where I depart from the recipe.  The cookbook tells you to cook this in a double boiler over medium heat.  I strongly disagree.  I’ve tried it that way…. even upping my heat to high and cooking it longer and I could not get my pudding to thicken using the double boiler method.

I cook it straight in a saucepan.  You may need to be a little more on your toes with a saucepan… you are cooking milk after all and you don’t want it to scorch.  But as long as you are close by, and keeping the temperature on medium- I’ve never once had any problem.

Stirring often, cook until the butter is melted and the milk is scalded.  Scalding milk means to bring to just before the boiling point… but not to a boil.

While the milk mixture is cooking, separate 3 eggs.  Place yolks in a small bowl whisk them well.  

Then add 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add a little hot milk mixture into the eggs to temper.

Then slowly add the egg mixture to the hot milk, stirring constantly for about half a minute.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  (Under-cooking at this point can slow the finishing process for as much as 1/2 hour.)

In the meantime, whisk 1/2 cup cornstarch into the reserved 1 cup of milk until smooth.  Slowly add the cornstarch mixture into the saucepan, whisking to prevent lumps.  I don’t have a shot of pouring…. because I couldn’t pour, whisk and photograph at the same time…  I didn’t want lumps!

Continue to stir for 2 minutes then stir every 5 minutes for 15 – 20 minutes.  When the pudding is thick, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla.  Remove from the heat.

The next step depends on where I’m serving the pie.  Since this pie was a gift, I sliced up 2 bananas and placed them at the bottom of the pre-baked shell.  If I’m serving the pie, I skip this step.  No matter what, bananas will turn a little brown in the pie.  I pour the cream filling into the baked pie shell and wait to add the bananas.  When serving I slice bananas right on top of each slice and add a big dollop of whipped cream.  That way the bananas are fresh.

Next pour the cream filling into the pre-baked pie shells, pour half into each pie shell.

If you are making one of the pies into a coconut cream, I make the banana first, pouring half the cream filling into the pie shell.  Then I add 1/2 cup of coconut into the remaining filling.  I add 1/4 cup toasted coconut as a garnish on the top of the pie.

That pie is for my husband.  I don’t like coconut one little bit.

I prefer to add a dollop of fresh whip cream at the time of serving.  But since this pie was a gift, I added the whipped cream before delivering it to my friend.

Oh how I love Banana Cream Pie.  I’m so glad this recipe makes two pies… so there is one for my family as well.

Here is the recipe with the changes I make to it:

Lion House Banana Cream Pie

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 baked 9-inch pie shells
  • whipped cream for topping

Measure 4 cups of milk, reserving 1 of those cups to mix with the cornstarch later.  In a large sauce pan add the 3 cups of milk, half and half, butter, and ¾ cup of sugar.  Cook over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is scalded (this means bring almost to the boiling point.)

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks well.  Add the remaining ½ cup sugar and salt and whisk very well.  Slowly add to the hot milk, stirring constantly for about half a minute.  Cook mixture for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Whisk the remaining 1 cup of milk with the cornstarch until smooth.  Slowly add to hot mixture, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.  Stir for 2 more minutes.  Continue cooking for another 15 – 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  When pudding is thick, add the vanilla.  Remove from the heat.

If making banana cream, I pour my filling into baked pie shells.  I add the sliced bananas and whipped cream at the time of serving.  That way the bananas are fresh and not brown.

You may also slice two bananas into each of the baked pie shells.  Then pour the half the cream filling into each shell.   Add the whipped cream at the time of serving.

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