Have you seen those questions sent around on Facebook that say, “What did your mother or grandmother cook for you that you really enjoy?” Well, one answer I can always give to this is “banana cream pie.” My mother has always been an avid pie baker, but it wasn’t my mother who made banana cream pie. It was her mother. My grandmother figured out at one point that I liked banana cream pie, and it seemed like every time I went there, I would just open the door, and smell the banana cream pie because she knew I was coming. Even if only I was visiting, she made it just for me. My mother knew I liked bananas and bought them for me, and my grandmother made me banana cream pie. I decided to make banana cream pie today, and I will share with you what I did.
I began by setting my oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, I started the crust. You may have seen other blogs where I make crust, so this part is pretty much the same that I always do. I put 3 cups of flour in a big mixing bowl. My recipe actually calls for a cup of solid shortening next, but in Korea, there is no shortening. In fact, in Romania, Japan, and Nigeria, I couldn’t find solid shortening either. In each country, I had to come up with a different substitution. In Romania, we raised pigs, so I used the pig fat when we butchered the pigs and boiled it down and made lard, and lard makes wonderful pie crusts. In Japan, you could find lard in the stores. In Nigeria, I found a kind of margarine in a can that looked like a shortening can. It worked well for pies. Here in Korea, none of those exist. I live in an apartment, and no one around me raises pigs, so I can’t make lard. If I use the Korean cooking butter, the pie crust is as hard as a rock. My solution is to fill the cup almost to the top with cooking butter, and then top it off with cooking oil. The mixture makes a nice flaky pie crust.
After I add the butter/cooking oil to the flour, I cut it into the flour, mix it, and mash it around until all the butter/cooking oil is incorporated into the flour, and it looks like a coarse meal. Next, I add 1/2 cup of cold water. I mix it around, but I have to get my hands into it and knead and mash it all together into pie dough.
Next, you can roll your pie dough out if you want, but I don’t. I have a quicker, less messy way. I separated my dough into two pieces because I am making 2 pies. I put half of dough in the center of a pie pan and begin mashing it into a round pancake shape. I just keep mashing and pushing it toward the outside like I am making a pizza crust. When I get close to the sides, I push it up the sides little by little until it is overlapping on the lip of the pan. Next, I pinch it all along the edge to give it a finished, crimped look. Lastly, I take a fork and prick the bottom of the crust so it won’t bubble up when I bake it.
I put both of my pie crusts into the oven and let them bake for about 15 minutes. The crust is just barely beginning to brown when I take it out. I set it aside to cool.
Next, while the crusts are cooling, I make the pie filling. I begin with 5 cups of milk. I put 4 cups of milk into a large pan, and I keep one cup of milk back in the measuring pitcher. I turn a small fire on under the pan on the stove and let it begin to cook. I keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally.
As the milk is heating, I put 10 tablespoons of sugar in the cup of milk I kept back in the measuring pitcher. (I was doubling a recipe, so if it bothers you that I measured it out with a tablespoon and not a measuring cup, then you can figure out how much of a cup the 10 tablespoons are because I have been working hard, and I am tired.) Next, I also added 5 tablespoons of cornstarch to the cold milk. Never add cornstarch directly into the hot milk because it will lump, and you will ruin your pudding. I mixed the milk, the sugar, and the cornstarch together.
Next I went back to my milk on the stove and stirred it making sure it wasn’t sticking. I got out my wire whip and turned the fire up just a little because it was cooking really slow. When it began to boil, I slowly drizzled the cold milk, corn starch, and sugar into the milk and stirred it with the wire whip as I drizzled it in.
When I was satisfied it was all mixed into the milk well, I got out 5 eggs. I separated the eggs putting the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. If you have never done this, just gently tap the egg on the edge of the counter in the middle of the egg so it will crack, but not completely break in half. Next, hold it over a bowl and pull the egg shell apart so that you have half the egg shell in one hand and half in the other. Keep the egg shells up like a cup and let the egg white fall into the bowl while you keep the egg yellow in the egg shell. When all the egg white falls away from the shell, then put the egg yellow in the other cup. It might take some practice if you have never done it. I separated 5 eggs putting the yellows in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. I covered the eggs whites and put them in the fridge because I have a white cake recipe I think I will use them on later. This recipe needs the egg yellows. I mixed the egg yellows with a fork, then I slowly drizzled them into the pudding cooking on the stove mixing them with a wire whip as I was drizzling.
After the egg yellows were all mixed it, I just kept cooking the pudding and mixing it with the wire whip. As it was cooking, I got out my cooking butter. I added 7 1/2 tablespoons of cooking butter to the pudding letting it melt and mixing it in. I have an old recipe I used to use that didn’t call for egg yellows and butter, but it had to be eaten while the pudding was still hot or it would turn out the consistency of jello. It was called blancmange I got out of a Fanny Farmer cookbook, and it was good, but when it got cold, it wasn’t as good. (This recipe is one I made through experimentation.) The egg yellows and the cooking butter make the pudding creamy even when it is cooled. I kept cooking until I though it was beginning to thicken, then I turned it off and added 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla. I mixed it in with the wire whip again. I left it to cool.
Now, the pie crusts are cool, so they are ready to work with. I sliced up several bananas into small pieces. I lined the bottom of my two pie pans with the banana pieces. My pudding had cooled a bit, so next, I poured my pudding into the pie shell. After that, I covered the top of the pies with banana pieces too.
You can eat it right away, and it is delicious, but if you put it in the fridge at this point, your bananas will turn dark if you don’t take care of them right. We didn’t want to eat them right away because they were for dinner, so I took out some lemon juice. I put a small drop of lemon juice on the top of each banana piece. I have done this before, and it doesn’t change the taste of the banana, but keeps the banana pieces so they look fresh. My grandmother used to cover the pie with whipped cream, and that keeps them fresh too. However, we can’t buy a package mix to make whipped cream or a tub of cool whip in Korea like you can buy in America. We buy a can of ready whip and spray it on just before we eat the pie. If I put the ready whip on at this point, I have learned it melts, so we wait until just before we eat the pie to put ready whip on.
I don’t have a pie stacker, and my fridge is small, but I have a solution for that too. After I covered my pies with plastic wrap, I turned a plate upside down on one of my pie pans, and then I set the other pie pan on top of it. Now, they are ready to go into the fridge for when we are ready to eat them. I licked the spoon I used to scrape the pudding pan, and my pudding is delicious!