Bon Appétit (February 2008)
We've had this blog for a little while now. Isn't it about time for a disaster?
Well, say hello to this Banana Cream Pie!
Okay, okay. It wasn't a disaster. The end result actually tasted quite heavenly. But the crust we made -- oh, the crust! -- turned out to be kind of a joke.
And we can't really blame the recipe. What follows, kids, is a lesson in what happens when you make too many substitutions.
This pie is part of Bon Appétit's February 2008 Salute to Whole Grains! Which, okay, fine, whatever. Whole grains are great. But we couldn't help thinking this would taste just as good (or maybe even better) with a good old-fashioned tacky chocolate-cookie crust.
The problems started with the "whole wheat pastry flour" the recipe calls for. We went to three different grocery stores -- including a natural foods store with tons of different flours -- and couldn't find any. Something online led us to believe we could substitute a combination of regular whole wheat flour and white all-purpose flour for the whole wheat pastry flour.
Then, the recipe calls for bread flour, which we also didn't have. (Full disclosure: We overlooked the bread flour when we were making our grocery list, and by the time we realized we needed bread flour, we weren't about to go back out on another flour run.) Something else online made us think it would be okay to substitute more regular whole wheat flour for the bread flour.
All that substituting turned out to have some consequences.
The dough just did not have the consistency it was supposed to. We could roll it out into a disc, but when we tried to place it into the pie plate, it simply wouldn't hold a form. Switching all those flours left us with a dough that was too glutenous (or not glutenous enough? still unsure) to work with. It was like trying to spread cold, spongy taffy into a pie form.
We ended up with spaces and gaps throughout the crust where it just wouldn't hold together. (Our photo here is a little misleading. Trust us -- that dough was tricky.)
Overall, it must be said, the pie actually turned out to be pretty great. The cream filling -- which was actually quite similar to the vanilla pudding we made recently, plus rum! -- was delicious. The bananas -- which we caramelized with our handy little kitchen blow-torch -- were also really yummy. And the whole pie just got better and better the longer it sat in the fridge.
And at the end of the day, the crust tasted good as well. And it probably would have had a great consistency if we had followed the recipe more explicitly. But unless you really want to cook with whole grains, you'd probably be just as happy with a chocolate-cookie crust.
Banana Cream Pie with Whole Grain Chocolate Crust
Bon Appétit (February 2008)
Servings: Makes 8 to 10 servings
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup unbleached bread flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon (or more) ice water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
7 bananas (about), peeled
Whipped cream (optional)
Chocolate sprinkles (optional)
Whisk first 4 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Gradually whisk in milk. Add yolks; whisk to blend. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Whisk over medium-high heat until pastry cream thickens and boils 1 minute, about 8 minutes total. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and rum. Remove vanilla bean. Transfer mixture to bowl; press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Combine first 7 ingredients in processor. Blend until finely ground. Transfer to large bowl. Using fork, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix orange juice, 1 tablespoon ice water, and vanilla in small bowl. Sprinkle over chocolate mixture, tossing until dough comes together in clumps and adding more water by tablespoonfuls if dry. Using floured hands, gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap; chill dough at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish (including rim) with nonstick spray. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment. Using bottom parchment as aid, turn dough over into prepared dish. Peel off parchment. Fold overhang under and crimp crust edges decoratively. Pierce crust all over with fork; freeze 10 minutes.
Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans. Bake crust 20 minutes. Remove foil with beans. Continue to bake crust until dry and firm to touch, about 10 minutes longer. Cool crust completely on rack.
Spread 1 cup pastry cream over bottom of crust. Slice enough bananas into 1/4-inch-thick rounds to cover cream in overlapping circles. Cover bananas with remaining pastry cream. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.
Slice 3 (or more) bananas on slight diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick ovals. Arrange in overlapping circles atop pie. Sprinkle with sugar. Caramelize, if desired, using handheld torch. Alternatively, cover bananas with whipped cream, sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles, and garnish with additional banana slices.