Strawberry Banana Cream Pie

Is it wrong to have pie for breakfast?

Well, if it is wrong then I don’t wanna be right!

It’s that time of year in California again – strawberry season – when growers have more strawberries than they know what to do with and so they’re left with no choice but to put a big box on sale for 99 cents! And, of course, I can never pass up a good deal, so I had to buy three cartons in the same week, rendering my fridge, along with the ever-present stack of Tupperware of leftovers, quite full.

The issue quickly became then, What in the world am I going to do with all these strawberries? Well, luckily, this weekend I got to attend Joy the Baker’s strawberry cooking demonstration at Surfas in Los Angeles and witness the beauty of one strawberry banana cream pie. Case closed.

Joy’s pie, of course, was gorgeous, but though my version may look a little rough around the edges, I can always go to Julia Child for a pick-me-up. She said, “Never apologize for your cooking – The way it turns out was the way it was supposed to turn out!” So there, perfect-pie makers.

Looks aside, this is the most decadent yet light, creamy, melt-in-your-mouth fruit pie I have ever tasted, and the first I’ve ever made. It was so good, in fact, that the above picture was taken just the day after I made it. No, my husband and I are not ashamed.

Though the recipe may look a little daunting in length, it is actually quite simple if you take your time. Take it from me – I tend to stay away from recipes longer than three paragraphs. Approach it with care, and with patience (something I’m always learning as one who prefers to cook by the seat of my pants), and it will turn out exactly the way it should turn out – Perfect, according to you.

Bon appetit!

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Strawberry Banana Cream Pie

Yield: 1 9-inch pie

Ingredients:

for the pie crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 large egg yolk

for the filling

2 cups whole milk

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted

pinch of salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ripe bananas, sliced

10 fresh strawberries, sliced

for the topping

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

to make the pie crust...

Mix the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large bowl, until combined. Scatter the pieces of cold butter over the dry ingredients and cut in with a pastry blender or two butter knives. There will be pieces of butter that are the size of oatmeal flakes and butter the size of peas. Beat the egg yolk with a fork and add a little of the egg yolk at a time to the flour mixture. Mix for a ten seconds at a time. When the egg is in, mix until the dough forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that may have escaped mixing.

Butter a 9-inch pie or tart pan. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and the sides of the pan. Press the crust so that the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of foil and fit the foil, butter side down, tightly against the frozen crust. Bake the crust for 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust is puffed, gently press it down with your fingers. Bake the uncovered crust for 8 to 10 more minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool completely before filling.

to make the filling...

Bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt until well blended and thick. Whisking without stopping, drizzle about 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking so the eggs don't cook and curdle. Still whisking, slowly add the rest of the hot milk in a steady stream.

Place the pan over medium heat and, whisking constantly (make sure to get the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, still whisking for one minute before removing from the pan from the heat. Mixture will be thick and silky. (Be warned, once the mixture starts to boil, it will thicken very quickly. Don't be afraid to remove the pan from the flame to whisk it smooth.)

Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let stand for 5 minutes then whisk in the butter, stirring until fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Transfer custard to a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold throughout. Custard can be refrigerated up to three days.

When ready to assemble the pie, slice bananas and strawberries into thin, round slices.
Whisk the cold custard to loosen. Add a handful of banana slices. Stir.

Arrange a thin layer of banana slices on the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange a thin layer of strawberries atop the bananas. Reserve some strawberries for topping the pie. Top with banana custard. Refrigerate while you make the whipped cream.

to make the whipped topping...

With a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat heavy cream until it just starts to thicken. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, spoon whipped cream onto banana cream pie filling. Top with sliced strawberries.

Enjoy!