Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Banana Cream Pie with Candied Walnuts (#4)

So, before I start into this pie, I think that it's fair that I warn you:
The candied walnuts are addicting.!
You might eat the whole batch before you ever cut into the pie.

Consider yourself warned.

But even after warning you, if you love candy, then I strongly/passionately/highly recommend that you run (that's right, I said run) to your kitchen and bake up a batch to put in your salad, ice cream, cereal, or mouth. They are that good. Run.
Now that I've been dramatic (though, merited) about these nuts, let's move on to the basis of this blog: PIE! And this week, banana cream pie.

First thing's first, this is pie from Bubby's Homemade Pies recipe book. A book I'm very excited about so I've been reading it before bed and I think it's been causing all sorts of food-related dreams...tales for another post, indeed.

Any way, who is Bubby? You ask.

Well, as many New Yorkers know, it's a great restaurant in lower Manhattan (and one in Brooklyn) that has a very extensive pie menu (not to mention a great photo booth downstairs--but that's beside the point). And, their pies are delicious.

Ryan and I are particularly fond of Bubby's because 1-He has an Aunt named Bubby, 2-One of our first dates was to Bubby's, and 3-We served some of Bubby's pies at our wedding reception. Any way, I'm excited about this book and there will definitely be more pies to come from the likes of Bubby.

So, onto the pie. Probably the best banana cream pie I've ever had. It's nice and tangy because the bananas are coated in lemon juice and sour cream, but it's also very sweet because of the vanilla pudding and candied walnuts. Fruity, creamy, sweet, tangy, crunchy, delicious! Could I go wrong? Well...on a couple things I did:

What I did wrong:
Even with the accolades that I just gave to it, I unintentionally did a few things sub par that didn't necessary mess up the taste, but did mess with the overall pie. For the record, I think that some of the directions were a little unclear (or I didn't read them thoroughly enough), which caused me to err. I have, however, tried to correct that for you, the readers...in case you want to make it.

Mistake 1-The Pudding: it wasn't thick enough. I get so nervous when I make anything custard-like over the stove. Do you know how many times I've turned a pudding into eggs? More times than I'd like to admit. I was determined not to do that again, so I took it off the stove too early. I thought it was thick, but there must be a bigger "blurp" (see below) that I missed. I thought the pudding had indicated that it was thick enough according to the directions...but it never set up like I thought/hoped/expected that it would.
Mistake 2-The crust: Good flaky crust, but the book actually didn't give any directions for cooking it...so, I "winged" it. Any way, it was still very flaky and tasted good, but were I to do it again, I would have taken it out of the oven at least 3-5 minutes before I did.

What I did right:
Well, for one, Bubby's book is like the choose your own adventure of pie making. With each recipe there are 4 or 5 crust options and many of them have topping options, so in the end, I think I created a pretty good combination: Banana cream filling, sour cream crust, and candied walnuts...so, I made good choices and let Bubby do the rest.

The Reviews:
"Best Banana Cream Pie ever"
"A little runny, but delicious."
"The Walnuts are the best part"
(though let me interject, they while they are delicious, the pie is good on it's own and they really just enhance things).

"While a little over-done, the crust flaked out well."

So...there's that...now on to the recipe. And by the way, please don't get scarred away from all the steps. In the end, it's a fairly easy pie to throw together. You just have to make pudding the day before and if you're like me, that's the trickiest part. (Although, just between us, no matter how it turns out, I think it's very rewarding to make pudding from scratch instead of just throwing in a package of Jell-0. But maybe that's just me.)

The Recipe:
(There's a lot of steps on this one so here's the order: the crust, the walnuts, the pudding, and then putting the pie together)

Banana Cream Pie with Candied Pecans

(Adapted from Bubby's Homemade Pies)

Sour Cream Crust:
This crust is easy to mix, but a little more fragile to roll out and crimp than an all-butter or lard crust. This dough is not suitable for a double crust because it is too fragile.

1 C. All Purpose Flour

1 pinch salt

8 Tbls. (one stick) cold, unsalted butter

1/2 C. very cold sour cream

Combine flour and salt and cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cold sour cream and mix by hand to combine until it it forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Roll chilled disk into a 12-inch round on a well-floured surface. Place into a 9 inch pie pan and cut overhang down to a 1/2 on all sides. Fold under to create a thicker lip on pie edge and decoratively pinch sides. Once set, chill in freezer for 15 minutes before cooking.

While re-chilling the pie, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line pie with parchment paper or foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes and decrease temperature to 300 for another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Candied Walnuts:

Or Pecans, if you'd like.

1/4 C. honey (any type)

1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups raw, unsalted walnuts or pecans

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix together honey, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nuts and mix well.

Spread the coated nuts on a large, well-greased, baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes. Stir and scrape them up every 5 minutes with a spatula. Return to pan until they smell good and are a deep glossy brown. Be careful not to burn them.

Remove the pan from the oven and scrap the nuts up while they are cooling and spread onto a plate so they won't stick together. When the nuts are cool, dry and set, store them in a container in the refrigerator and store up for 3 weeks.

Vanilla Pudding:

Makes 3 cups.

2 C. whole milk

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

1/2 C. sugar, divided

pinch of salt

1/2 C. egg yolks (about 6 yolks)

1/4 C. cornstarch

4 Tbs (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed

In a large, heavy, non-reactive saucepan (aluminum reacts and will cause a pudding to turn dingy grey), combine the milk, 1/4 cup of the sugar, the vanilla bean and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the yolks, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and cornstarch until smooth.

Have the whisk, a ladle and a large glass or ceramic dish handy. Heat the milk mixture in the saucepan until it just comes to a boil, whisking it a bit as it gets steamy. When you see the first bubbles boiling up, take the pan off the heat and place it on a potholder next to the egg mixture. (To make life a little easier on yourself, put the egg bowl on the right if you're right-handed, or on the left if you're left-handed. Use your stronger arm to whisk; use your weaker arm to ladle the hot milk.

During the next steps, stir constantly or the eggs will coagulate and you'll have scrambled eggs.This is quick work.Take a ladle full of hot milk and pour it in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking constantly. Continue stirring, and add a few more ladle fulls of hot milk to the eggs in the same way.The tempered eggs are now ready to add back into the hot milk.

To do this, whisk the hot milk constantly and pour the tempered eggs in slowly. When fully combined, put this mixture back on the stove top over medium heat and continue to whisk constantly.The mixture should be ready to come back to a boil very quickly.When the custard nears the consistency of pudding, take very short pauses in stirring to look for signs of a bubble surfacing (it is more like a single volcanic blurp). Don't look too closely, or you'll risk getting spattered with hot pudding. Just stir, pause briefly, stir, and so on.

When you see the first blurp, remove the pan from the heat immediately and whisk in the cubes of butter.Whisk until fully combined and immediately pour the pudding into a large glass or ceramic dish to cool it down. While the pudding is still very hot, stretch plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding. Smooth out any air pockets to make the pudding airtight. This will prevent a skin or condensation from forming on top of the pudding. Refrigerate the pudding until completely cold — at least 4 hours.

Stir the cold pudding and retrieve the vanilla bean. Squeeze out the excess seeds (those little black specks) in the interior of the pod with your thumb and forefinger — pinch and slide your fingers down the length of the bean, freeing the black seeds as you go. Do this with each half of the bean, returning as many seeds as possible to the pudding. Stir the pudding again and pour it into the crust. Smooth the top with a spatula.

Putting it all together:

4-5 medium sized bananas (select ripe bananas without any sign of spots or green near the stem)

1 1/2 Tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 tsp. Vanilla extract

1/4 C. sour cream

3 C. of vanilla pudding

top with candied nuts

Slice the bananas 1/4 inch thick to get 4 cups and immediately toss in the lemon juice to prevent them from browning. Stir the vanilla extract into the sour cream and gently fold into the bananas. Layer the coated bananas in the pie crust and flatten them. Pour the pudding on top and smooth it with a spatula.

Cover the pie in plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least 2 hours before cutting. Serve the wedges of pie cold sprinkled with candied walnuts.

Store loosely covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

1 comment: