Once I started making chocolate cream pie, I got requests for banana cream pie from a couple of my five siblings. If I remember correctly, Michael and Suzanne were both big fans. I would make at least two chocolate and one banana to sit beside my mom’s pumpkin pies. I think she made three or four. It was a lot of pies, but with in-laws, nieces, and nephews, there were a lot of us. A few of us really liked to have it for breakfast the following day, and, of course, the rest was eaten with turkey dinner leftovers. We were never wasteful with the pies.
The scene in the photo was a typical Thanksgiving at my mom’s house with the mural taped to the wall (more on that in a minute), her and dad’s wedding china, the lace tablecloth, a dill pickle/black olive platter, and her fruit salad in the pink bowl. It was basically apples, oranges, and green grapes tossed in sweet whipped cream (no scary nuts or mayo). Judging by my niece’s and nephew’s ages, it may have been the last Thanksgiving Bob and I spent there. Once we moved to Chicago, we only came home for Christmas, and she passed before we moved back to Oregon.
Let me tell you about that mural. Besides the pies, it was my favorite thing about Thanksgiving. Looking at it now, I can understand how my older siblings would roll their eyes at my insistence of bringing it out of the den closet every year, unrolling it, and taping it on the wall. But, as a kid (and still as a young adult), I thought that colorful scene, framed with years of masking tape, was wonderful. My mom liked it too. My sister, Cindy, however, felt differently. It was she who had worked on it with classmates at school and brought it home, probably when I was a toddler, too young to remember. She admitted to me in later years, that she had barely painted on the thing at all and never thought she should have ended up with it in the first place, so it was a little tainted for her. I’m glad she did though because Thanksgiving would not have been the same without it.
This recipe will go in the cookbook because it’s a big hit when my brother, Billy, makes it at his restaurant, Billy Mac’s. His daughter, Nicole, happened to be here when I made this and informed me he puts caramel sauce on his, so I dug out some butterscotch topping for optics. I need to post a caramel sauce recipe, but it hasn’t happened yet. Now you know my little secret.
It’s embarrassing to admit how much over-thinking the matter of using the store-bought topping has gone on here.
Of course, you could also do what Ella does and whip up a chocolate ganache to drizzle on top because, you know, if it’s not chocolate with her…
Whip your own cream with a little vanilla extract and a couple tablespoons of sugar or use storebought. Who am I to judge?
I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving with your favorite people!
Banana Cream Pie
(makes one 9-inch pie – about 8 servings)
1 9-inch pie crust, baked
2 large bananas, sliced
3 cups milk, whole or 2%
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large banana, sliced
caramel or butterscotch sauce (optional)
Make your pie crust or bake the one you bought. Allow it to cool before you proceed with the filling. Once cooled, slice the bananas and place them in an even layer in the crust.
Heat the milk in the microwave for 2 minutes to take the chill off. (Not absolutely necessary, but it will speed up the cooking process.) Separate the egg yolks into a medium-size mixing bowl and reserve the whites for another use. Gather the remaining ingredients for the custard.
In a large saucepan, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt until combined.
Gradually add the milk to the saucepan. It’s important to add just a little bit of milk, about 1/2 cup, at a time, and whisk it in with the flour mixture until completely smooth before adding the next 1/2 cup, then repeat until all of the milk is added. This will ensure a non-lumpy custard.
Turn the stove burner on to medium heat (once you have at least half the milk added) and cook until the mixture comes to a low simmer and starts to thicken. Stir frequently with a wire whisk, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan to keep an even texture. This should take about ten minutes.
Once the mixture has thickened to a texture similar to heavy cream, it’s time to temper, then add the yolks.
Begin by whisking the yolks in the mixing bowl so they are broken and well combined. Scoop about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture out of the saucepan and, constantly whisking, slowly add it to the yolks. Repeat until you have added about 2 cups of the hot mixture. Slowly add the yolk mixture into the saucepan and stir until well combined.
Stirring almost constantly over medium heat, bring the custard to a low boil and cook for five minutes. You should be able to run your finger through a coated spoon without it running. Remove the custard from the heat.
This next step is not absolutely necessary, but if you feel you’ve got some lumps in your custard, you may use a fine mesh strainer to strain it into a large mixing bowl.
Add the butter and vanilla extract and stir until the custard is smooth.
Pour the custard in an even layer over the bananas. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until it is set, at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Cut the pie and garnish individual pieces with fresh banana slices and whipped cream. A drizzle of caramel or butterscotch sauce is a nice touch but totally optional.
Happy Thanksgiving! I am grateful to you for taking the time to read my recipes and ramblings.
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. Rumi