3/13/12

Banana Cream Pie

I’m really into sports. Just ask me who I think is going to make this summer’s Olympic women’s gymnastics team. I dare you! I could go on and on forever! But this blog isn’t called bon appé-one-and-a-half-twist-into-a-double-Arabian, now is it?

So, let’s switch gears to a different competition: Food 52’s Piglet Tournament of Cookbooks. For those of you unfamiliar, Food 52 took sixteen of the most notable cookbooks of 2011 and placed them in a classic tournament-style bracket with top food writers and chefs as judges. As you might have guessed, I was rooting for Tender. (Remember my Tender Trifecta?) And for the first two rounds, the fat, novel-length cookbook was holding his own. The judges found Tender to be approachable, non-gadget-oriented, and just plain lovely. (I don’t think either of them actually said lovely, but they probably meant to.)

Then, in the semi-finals, Tender goes up against another one-word titled cookbook: Milk. But don’t freak out, the good money is on Tender. Tender is all about old school, honest food that’s not afraid of using garden vegetables straight from your backyard vegetable patch. Milk is the total opposite. It’s irreverent, flashy, impractical food that’s not afraid of equipment like acetate. To put it in sports terms we can all understand, Tender is like Kate Moseley and Doug Dorsey’s routine with the classical music and without the pamchenko. Milk is the pamchenko.

So, you can understand the shock when acclaimed food writer, Kim Severson, came down on Milk's side. Naturally, I took the loss hard (and if you read the comments, so did a lot of other people!). I hadn’t explored Milk previously, and after this, I couldn’t even look at it—every time I browsed the cookbook section, I completely ignored it. This went on for weeks. And then, one day, I don’t know what happened, but I found myself looking at it. Soon enough, I was opening it, flipping through the pages. And then, all of a sudden, I was thinking: this looks fun! I want to have fun! I want to make these recipes!

Let me show you what I’m talking about, and then you try and tell me that this doesn’t look fun, OK?
Initially, I really wanted to make one of the cakes, but they called for a few pieces of equipment that I didn’t want to buy. The pies seemed more doable. And the banana cream pie sounded delicious. I loved the corresponding photo, too. Before I knew it, I was mentally committed to making it.

Only after this mental commitment did I read through the instructions. Oh, you have to wait for the bananas to get super ripe? Oh, in order to make the crust, you have to make the chocolate crumbs? Oh, you need to bloom gelatin? For how to bloom gelatin, go to page 29. Wait, what’s going on here? I just wanted to eat a cream pie that had some bananas in it and sat on top of a chocolatey crust. I didn’t realize I was applying for a mortgage.
But, in the interest of trying not to create any undue stress, I decided to give myself a whole week to make this. I bought bananas and waited for them to ripen to a glorious brown color, which (bonus?) produced a few fruit flies by the time things were all said and done. While I waited, I made the chocolate crumbs. I put them in an airtight container, and then a few days later, I made the crust. I wrapped that up in plastic wrap and a few days later, when my bananas were grandma ripe, I made the banana cream.
Then, one early morning, I tapped Matt on the shoulder while he lay asleep and asked him if he could please take the our version photo while I poured the cream into the piecrust. “We’re having the pie?” he said.

“Tonight,” I whispered as creepily as possible. “Tonight, we’ll have pie.”
And after dinner, that’s exactly what we did. And it was fantastic. Not, I-deserved-to-beat-Tender fantastic and not I-will-definitely-make-this-again fantastic, but it was really, really good.
Banana Cream Pie via Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi

Chocolate Crumb
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until mixed. Add the butter and mix on low until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
Spread the crumbs on a parchment or silicone mat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the crumbs cool completely before using or eating. [This latter part about not eating it until it cooled made me curious. So curious that I ate a few crumbs before they had completely cooled. AND they were delicious. Go figure?]

Chocolate Crust (makes 1 10-inch pie crust)
3/4 of the chocolate crumb recipe above
2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Break up the chocolate crumbs into a bowl. Add sugar and 1 tablespoon of the melted butter to start. With your hands, knead until it is moist enough to form a ball. If it isn't moist enough, add another tablespoon of melted butter. Press the crust firmly into the pie plate, making sure the bottom and sides are evenly covered.

Banana Cream
2 very ripe bananas. [We are talking about black/brown bananas here. Tosi says this makes all the difference in the world.]
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks

2 gelatin sheets (or 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin)

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon yellow food coloring

3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup powdered sugar

1 just-ripe (yellow) banana, sliced

Combine the ripe bananas, 1/3 cup heavy cream, and 1/4 cup milk in a blender & puree until totally smooth. Add the next section of ingredients--the sugar, cornstarch, salt, & egg yolks and blend. Pour into a medium saucepan. Clean out the blender.

Bloom the gelatin. (To bloom sheet gelatin, soak it in a small bowl of cold water for 2 minutes. Gently squeeze to remove any excess water before using. To bloom powdered gelatin, sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small dish or cup. Allow to soften for 3-5 minutes.)

Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. [I really like Tosi's description here. It was so helpful as this is exactly what happens. She left out one thing, though. At this point, you will definitely have broken a sweat.]

Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and butter and blend until smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is bright yellow. Tosi realizes that this is a lot of coloring, but says, "banana creams don't get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp," which I think is a good enough argument for food coloring as any.

Transfer the mixture to a heatsafe container & chill in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes or until completely cooled.

Using a whisk or a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the cream and powdered sugar to medium-soft peaks. Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. (Stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, this will stay fresh for up to 5 days.)

Assembly!
Pour half the banana cream into the chocolate pie shell. Cover with a layer of sliced banana and then cover that with the remaining filling.

Note: I'm not sure if my gelatin never really bloomed or what, but this pie was basically a pudding, as in you couldn't exactly cut a slice of it as much as you could spoon some of it onto a plate. If I ever made it again, I might skip the whole pie-crust process and simply serve the banana cream in a ramekin with a healthy dusting of the chocolate crumb on top.
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55 comments:

Matthew said...

I ate 3/4 of this thang. It was crazy!

Judi said...

Um, I made her crack pie for book club once and I walked into the kitchen later to find one of the girls hunched over the pie plate like a deranged animal- it was that good.

Anonymous said...

Have to post this as ANON or I'll never hear the end of it (!) BUT for FUN FACTOR and INTERESTING FACTOR I feel that MILK > TENDER.

amelia said...

hahahhaha, show yourself, anonymous! We won't Internet-bully you!! This is a safe place here. :) :)

Just waiting for toast said...

Wow, just wow. This looks amazing xo

Amy said...

Ooph I love whenever I see a blog post about a momofuku milk recipe. So fun to follow because all the recipes are always such big undertakings from all the components that are always required. That being said, I probably won't ever make a recipe of hers myself, haha. But definitely fun to read about. Thanks amelia!

Meaghan said...

I know I never comment, but I'm basically like your biggest fan in Washington DC. Mos def enjoyed the energy of this post. It read like I was Dominique Moceanu running towards the vault, but instead of pulling a tight landing after Tsukahara vault, I landed in my pajama pants on the sofa, eating a sloppy spoonful of delicious puddin' pie. I mean, this is how I see things going on Saturday. When I make this. Probably.

beti said...

wow this pie looks fantastic and really fluffy

Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said...

OK I am rooting for Tender as well. Nigel Slater is my food idol and I love him. Having said that, this pie looks awesome and so much fun to make. Looks insanly tasty too :)

la domestique said...

Loved this post- it reminded me of how as a teenager and college student, if I hated a boy upon first meeting him, you could bet I would be dating him within a month. Love and hate are closely related they say. I do want to make this pie, though, fruit flies and all.

amelia said...

hahahhahahaah dying of laughter at the Dominique Moceanu & Tsukahara mentions!! Who is going to make the team this year?!! Nastia, Shawn, Jordyn, Aly?! It's SO exciting. But point being: thanks for reading, Meaghan!!

Meister @ The Nervous Cook said...

Who cares about it being puddingy: This is the kind of pie that doesn't make it past a spoon and a single sitting anyway, right?

Definitely looks worth a week's wait, lass. Brilliant.

Mary Anne said...

I feel that this is the Double Yurchenko of pies. I feel that this is what all pies could be if they spent a summer at Bela Karolyi's ranch in Texas!

Mary Anne said...

Meaghan,

Sounds like you could use a summer at Bela Karolyi's ranch! http://karolyiscamps.com/index.html

Caroline Shields said...

Didn't need the link for the pamchenko, but loved seeing the clip again!! Awesome post!

Kelsey said...

Still in team Tender, here. But this is pretty! And yay olympics!

Jessica said...

I'm totally attempting this next weekend. You introduced me to Tender and it's seriously been my favorite cookbook purchase of the year, but after this preview, I'll have to pick up Milk and try some of those crazy cakes. Can't imagine it trumping Tender though!
-Jess

Sarah (Winner Celebration Party) said...

Both books sound good to me, though I have neither (and gravitate toward buying Tender first).

But, my subconscious mind sends forth one peculiar question, and one question only: Does this pie taste like banana Runts?

Anna said...

Haha I was totally devastated when Tender lost in Piglet!! Slater has been one of my favourite food writers for years. He's the only food writer who makes me laugh out loud and his recipes always work. (Side note - I picked up my first of his books at Books for Cooks when I was in London a long time ago and it is an amazing shop). I'm tempted to come over to the dark side and buy Milk though - that pie looks amazing and I don't even like bananas...

Megan Gordon said...

You go, girl for attempting this! I have this book, I love Christina and Momofuku and the whole bit. I even have a small baking business (Marge granola you sell at Heath!!!) and I haven't stepped near one of her recipes. But I'm happy to see that the pie was a) do-able and b)delicious. Maybe I'll take another go at the book and nudge myself towards actually baking something. Beautiful photos.

ai said...

ohmammaaaaa! i have to try it!!!!

Olivia James said...

hahahahaha. oh my gosh. something about the fruit fly bonus and you whispering creepily kills me. you're hilarious and this looks amazing.

tori said...

Oh, my lord. This has made my day. I was just, just raving about the sheer genius of The Cutting Edge the other night. Surely in a Piglet for sports films, it has to make it up there? Looking forward to getting my hands on Milk. Had the loveliest time trawling our way through the momofukus when we were in NYC a few years ago.

Rebecca McTee said...

GO TEAM TENDER!!! So, like, the Edward or Jacob thing, except no fourteen year olds will know what we're talking about.

'Tonight we have pie?' I like you.

Rebecca McTee said...

Bon Appetempt = the Switzerland of the internet world. Where even self-proclaimed dictators with sharp tongues like myself must promise to lay down their, um, fingers in support of different opinions. *sigh*

Katherine @ eggton said...

Amelia,

I had a flash back to being 5 years old and dying Easter eggs with my mom when I saw the picture of the yellow food coloring. Did you get that a long time ago? Do they make food coloring in those cute containers anymore? The ones I got recently are just plain cylinders.

Anyway, I agree with everyone else in that "Tonight we have pie" was hilarious.

I took the man to momofuku milk bar when he visited New York and he was disappointed. The fact that the line late at night takes 45 minutes only adds to the already high expectations, though.

Cheers!

Katherine @ eggton said...

To be clear-- we didn't have this banana cream pie when we went to the restaurant and were a tad disappointed. THIS looks amazing.

Kara said...

That Grasshopper Pie looks AMAZERS!! And so fun. Like, Punky Brewster in a pie. YUMMO.

Sorry. Your (terriff) post is about banana cream pie. That cream looks so solid! Like, very present. Like, Hey World, Check Me Out!

Did you like spreading the tasks out through the week? On the one hand, it gives the home-cook a nice pace. On the other hand, I have lost many a mission this way. So, to keep the gymnastics metaphors going, Nice finish!!

Alex said...

Grandma ripe bananas + a Pamchenko Twist? "It's too dangerous!" Thank goodness your toe pick didn't get in the way.

amelia said...

omg. Karolyi needs to update his site!! What a jenky-looking camp!!

amelia said...

Megan, thanks for stopping by! I LOVE your granola. actually, everyone I know does! nice work there, lady.

amelia said...

thanks, Rebecca!! And p.s. we need to screen print soon!!

amelia said...

le sigh! I haven't been to a single Momofuku establishment and am dyyyying to go. Will try the noodle bar one first though... That ramen just sounds heavenly.

Heather Taylor said...

freak show pretty style. i want to eat now. maybe if i have another wedding day, you can bring me a slice? too soon?

Susan Cooper said...

OMG, This is to die for. I happened to love banana cream pie but this just takes it to a new level. It may be my newest addiction. :-), Susan Cooper

Sandy @ tinytinyfork said...

I need to have this. And to express my overwhelming need to eat this, I thought I should mention that I'm allergic to bananas.

jillianheartsfood said...

looks yumtastic! also, the bit about whispering as creepily as possible "tonight we'll have pie" made me LOL at my desk. thanks!

kasumi said...

Nice Cutting Edge reference. I about shot beer out my nose when I stumbled across that little gem.

Anne Zimmerman said...

I adore banana cream pie. My godmother's mother's recipe. It's old fashioned and basic but it hits the spot. Must make soon!

amelia said...

yes, anne! Please make and blog about it! Then, I can recreate when I get a craving and don't want to go through this whole process again! :)

jeana sohn said...

OMG. it looks yummy!!!

joanna said...

this would be really dangerous to have around because I WOULD EAT THE ENTIRE THING. you're a champ!

Natalie Webb said...

Toepick! But anyway, reading this post makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with me that this does not sound like an unreasonable amount of work for pie? Then again, the Lemongrass, Ginger and Meyer Lemon cupcakes I made this week are a bit of a feat themselves. They definitely took some time and seemingly every dish in the kitchen.

I am going to be making this drool inspiring pie as soon as possible, or at the very least, components thereof in other stuff I want to throw together in the kitchen. Thank you so much for braving this recipe to bring it to us. And thank you for the creepy.

Hey, if you like creepy, we watched Don't Be Afraid of the Dark last night (the newer Guillermo del Toro movie), and I finally found a kind of horror movie that legitimately freaks out my big burly fiancee. Needless to say, I was impersonating the little gobliny bastards all night. Kitten helped, she is a goblin.

Keep on being as awesome as you are.

amelia said...

Thanks, Natalie!! and I think you're right.. for a pie *this* good, you gotta work for it!!

Imen said...

YOOM!

Holly B said...

I know the main event here is the pie...and it does look like a delight, however, I must comment on the perfection of that first photo! That is the epitome of what is strived for in photographing kitchen adventures!

gothic lolita dresses said...

I love banana and I love pie,too!It's so great of you!This must be my favourite pie!Thanks!

NancyDuggan said...

Is there any use for the remaining quarter of the chocolate crust mixture besides just eating it?

amelia said...

Hi Nancy!

Good question. I kept meaning to use it as an ice cream topping, but it was really good just on its own, especially once you're out of pie and your sweet tooth remains. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this! Before you consign this to your pudding file, I'd suggest giving it another go -- I made this tonight using the same brand of powdered gelatin, and it turned out firm enough to be called a pie. Especially after a bit of chilling, it definitely held its shape, and was super satisfying to eat!
Dan

miss fox said...

Don't know if anyone else has mentioned this already buuuut....the gelatin that she is using in this recipe is sheet gelatin NOT powdered gelatin. In order to use sheet gelatin you have to bloom it first, that is, make it soft and pliable by soaking it in water (its rather brittle before). While its basically the same thing as powdered it does give a bit of a different consistency...
Better cooking supply stores carry it (Surfas in Culver City might) or you can be like me and beg all your friends going to or coming back from Europe to bring you some ;)


mogodesigner said...

another recipe calls for using (1) packet of gelatin mix as compared to just 1/4 of it. maybe that explains which the banana cream didn't set?

The Wondrous Woman said...

What do you do with remaining 1/4 chocolate crumbs?

farhan said...

It was incredible! It sure needs more gelatin. No one complained though. The crust melts in your mouth.

Johnny G. said...

A baker friend of mine stated that the reason it did not firm up is that you should have used a tablespoon of the gelatin powder not a teaspoon (2 sheets of gelatin s/b the equivalent of 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin powder). Peace.