Banana Cream Pie

I would like to thank everyone for the support they’ve given to me and my family over the course of the past several weeks.  The road is long, but I hope that with time we learn to deal with our pain in a healthy and positive manner.

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This Banana Cream Pie is one that is very special to me.  We celebrated my parents 35th wedding anniversary last year, and I had prepared 2 pies similar to this for the event.  They were received  with great praise, and more important, Mummi and Papa both enjoyed them.

Last week my close childhood friends came to spend the day with me (our group of friends were all together under the same roof for the first time in 6 years!).  They brought along a delicious lunch of Caesar Salad,Garlic Bread, Buffalo Chicken Pasta (recipe which I’m dying to get from my friend), and Sticky Date Pudding (totally delish!).  I decided to bake this pie for the occasion, considering how close it is to my heart, and these friends of mine are too.

Just a note about the recipe- I am a totally low maintenance kind of cook, but with that being said, the use of vanilla beans in the pastry cream really makes this pie shine.  If you are unable to use vanilla beans for whatever reason, just add 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract to the cream after it’s done cooking.  Also, the decorative border around the edges of the crust are actually just spoon indentations!  Totally simple!

 

BananaCreamPiePic

 

Banana Cream Pie

Yield: 1- 9” Pie

Ingredients:

For Pie Crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, but into small pieces
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

For Filling:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and beans scraped
  • 3 to 4 bananas
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Directions:

Make Pie Crust:

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds.

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Shape into a flattened disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, a bit less than ¼-inch thick. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Using kitchen shears or a sharp knife, trim crust so there’s a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold under overhang so it extends slightly beyond edge of pie plate. Crimp edge as desired. Prick dough all over with a fork. Brush pie crust with beaten egg. Chill pie shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375˚.

Line chilled pie shell with a round of parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges of crust just turn golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment. Return crust to oven, and continue baking until golden all over, 20 to 25 minutes more. Place pie shell on a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Filling:

Prepare an ice bath; set aside. In a bowl, lightly whisk egg yolks; set aside.

In a saucepan, whisk together milk, granulated sugar, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla bean. Bring to a simmer (do not boil), and cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes.

Once the milk begins to simmer, slowly drizzle it in a thin stream into the egg yolks, whisking all the while to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Transfer the custard to a heat-proof bowl and cook over a saucepan of boiling water (a double broiler), whisking constantly, until the custard is thick and bubbles begin to form in the middle. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the custard so that a skin does not form. Set in the ice bath and cool completely.

Cut the bananas into ¼-inch slices, slightly on the bias. Beginning at the edge of the piecrust, arrange the slices in slightly overlapping rows. Cover with custard, using an offset spatula to smooth it into an even layer.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine cream and confectioners’ sugar; beat until soft peaks form. Using a small offset spatula, spread the whipped cream on top of the custard.

Refrigerate pie, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

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Daring Bakers: Chicken Pot Pie

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Hannah of Rise and Shine was our October 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she challenged us to bake our own double crusted savory pot pies. Using any from-scratch crust and filling we choose, we were allowed to get completely creative with our recipe, showing off the savory flavors and fillings from our own home or region.

I was particularly excited for this month’s challenge because I have never had good experiences with chicken pot pie in the past.  I rolled my sleeves up and got to working on my handy pie crust recipe, which also happens to be the same one that I use for Apple Pie (without the sugar), and got to chopping vegetables.  I used a filling recipe from Brown Eyed Baker because I’ve always had wonderful results with her recipes.

The verdict?  The pie was great!  The crust was flaky and perfect as promised, and the filling was hearty and flavorsome, as it should be.  Give this a shot and I promise you and your family will be very happy 🙂

ChickenPotPiePic

Chicken Pot Pie

Yield:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

For Pie Crust:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very cold, diced
  • ½ cup water, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For Filling:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup peeled and diced carrots
  • ½ cup sliced white mushrooms
  • ½ cup peeled and diced potatoes
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make Pie Crust:

Combine flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add diced butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is pea-sized.  With the machine running, slowly add water and vinegar, pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball.  Transfer dough to plastic wrap, form into a ball, wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Make Filling:

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes.  Slowly add the broth, whisking until smooth, and bring to a boil.  Add thyme, bay leaf, onions, celery, carrots, and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, peas, chicken, salt, and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow the filling to cool slightly.  Discard bay leaf.

Assemble Pot Pie:

Preheat oven to 425˚F and set aside 4 individual sized ramekins/baking dishes.

Divide the dough into two portions.  Divide each half into 4 portions (totaling 8).  Roll 4 of the balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface into a large circle, big enough to fit inside the individual baking dish.  Transfer and fit each crust to the baking dishes, lightly brush with egg white, and freeze for ten minutes.

Roll the remaining 4 balls of pie dough on a lightly floured surface, large enough so that they cover the tops of the pies.  Set aside.

Remove bottom crust from freezer, brush once again with egg white, add filling, and add top crust.  Crimp edges if desired. Lightly brush the tops with remaining egg white. Cut a few slits into the top to allow steam to escape during baking.

Bake until the pies are golden brown and flaky, 30 to 45 minutes.  Allow the pies to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Daring Bakers: Pies- Apple Pie

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie!  I was so excited when I found out what this month’s challenge was, because I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make apple pie at home for what seems like an eternity!

The recipe that I always go back to whenever I make apple pie is one that a good friend shared (Muni, haaaaay girl!).  The piecrust is an Ina Garten creation, but has been adapted to replace the shortening with additional butter and a few other changes that my friend suggested.  The resulting piecrust is buttery, flakey, and perfectly browned when baked.  The apple filling is pretty basic, and more spices can be added for an even more flavorful pie.  I personally love the combination of apples and cinnamon, so I leave other spices out and let these two work their magic 😉 but feel free to add or subtract whatever your heart desires!

That's my little boy trying to steal a bite while I was trying to take pictures!

That’s my little boy trying to steal a bite while I was taking pictures!

Apple Pie (Double Crust)

Yield:  1- 9”Pie

Ingredients:

For Crust:

  • 1 cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very cold, diced
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup water, very cold
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

For Filling:

  • 5 – 6 baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

Make Crust:

Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.  Add diced butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the butter is pea-sized.  With the machine running, slowly add water and vinegar, pulsing until the dough begins to form a ball.  Transfer dough to plastic wrap, form into a ball, wrap completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into two portions.  Roll each portion on a lightly floured surface into a large circle, big enough to fit inside the pie plate.  Transfer and fit one crust to the pie plate, lightly brush with egg white, and freeze for ten minutes.

Remove from freezer, brush once again with egg white, add filling, and add top crust.

Make Filling:

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Combine all ingredients for filling, making sure to mix well so that all of the apple slices are coated.

Pour filling over prepared piecrust, add top crust, and lightly brush the top with remaining egg white.  Sprinkle additional sugar over the top crust.  Cut a few slits into the top to allow steam to escape during baking.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 375˚ and continue baking for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the pie is golden brown.

Cool completely, and refrigerate any leftovers.

Apple Hand Pies

My all-time favorite pie is apple pie.  When I was a child, my dad used to stop by McDonalds on his way back from work and bring home their apple pies (my mom was used to cooking more traditional Pakistani/Indian food).  We weren’t accustomed to eating pie throughout the year; in fact, the only times that we really did were at Thanksgiving get-togethers, and the pies were the store-bought kind 100% of the time.  It was only until a few years ago, after I got serious about cooking and baking, that I delved into the art of pie-making.

A few weeks ago I came across this recipe on Brown Eyed Baker and decided to try these out. All I have to say is: OH MY GOD! I have missing out my entire life! The pastry is buttery and flaky and just plain perfect.  I adapted the filling based on how I make apple pie and was not left disappointed.  The recipe yielded 18 pies, and between 3 people we finished them in 1.5 days.

Embarrassed? Yes.

Remorseful? Absolutely not 😀

AppleHandPiesPic

Apple Hand Pies

Yield: 15-18 Pies

Ingredients:

For Pastry:

  •  2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup water, cold

For Filling:

  • 2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced small
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour

For Topping:

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Turbinado sugar, for garnish

Directions:

Make Pastry:

Combine all-purpose flour and salt in one bowl, and place butter in another.  Place both bowls in the freezer for one hour.

Remove from freezer and combine butter and flour mixture in a food processor and pulse until the butter has been equally distributed (should resemble course cornmeal). Remove from the food processor and place back in the bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice, and water.  Add half of the sour cream mixture to the flour and mix using fingertips until large lumps form.  Move the large lumps to one side of the bowl, add the remaining half of the sour cream mixture, and mix just until everything begins to come together.  Pat the lumps into a ball, cover, and refrigerate for one hour (Dough can be stored in the freezer for up to one month at this point).

Divide the dough in half.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness.  Using a 2 ½-inch cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as possible.  Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Make Filling:

Combine apple, sugar, ground cinnamon, and all-purpose flour and set aside.  Drain any accumulated liquid prior to assembling pies.

To Assemble:

Spoon about one tablespoon of the apple filling into the center of a circle of dough. Dab around the circumference with cold water, and place another circle (which has also been brushed with water around the edges) on top and press down to seal.  Press the edges down again with the back of a fork. Return the pies to the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Prepare the egg-wash by whisking the egg yolk and water together. Brush the tops of the pies with the egg-wash and cut a small slit in the center of the pie.  Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top, and bake for 22 to 28 minutes, or until golden-brown.  Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.