Banana Cream Pie

I can't remember when I last had Banana Cream Pie, but I know it wasn't as good as this recipe.  I'm not a fan of banana flavoring so one of the things I love about this recipe is that the only banana flavor comes from a layer of ripe bananas between 2 layers of homemade vanilla pudding making the flavor comforting and real.  It looks like a diner pie but tastes even better.  

Banana Cream Pie
Makes 1 - 9 inch pie
Source:  Adapted from a recipe by America's Test Kitchen

Crust: {makes 2 crusts - you'll only need one, you can freeze the other for later use}
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
1/3 cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup ice water

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup evaporated milk
5 large egg yolks
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds removed and reserved
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced thin

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the crust:
Dice the butter and vegetable shortening and return to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture.  Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix.  Add the butter and shortening.  Pulse 8-12 times, until the butter is the size of peas.  With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball.  Dump out on a floured surface and roll into a ball.  Cut the dough in half, and wrap each half in plastic wrap.  Let dough rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove one half of the pie crust from the refrigerator.  Roll out on a well floured surface into a circle to fit a 9 inch pie pan.   Remove excess dough, cover with foil and add pie weights {or dried beans}, then bake the crust 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and pie weights and continue baking until light brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the filling:
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Whisk in the evaporated milk, followed by the egg yolks and then the whole milk, until smooth.  Stir in the vanilla seed and bean.  Turn stovetop burner to medium heat and, whisking constantly, bring mixture to a simmer.  Continue whisking, while mixture is simmering, until it thickens and is smooth, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter.  Set mixture aside to cool until just warm, stirring often, about 5 minutes.

Discard the vanilla bean and pour half the warm filling into the room temperature baked pie crust.  Add the sliced bananas to the poured filling, laying them in single layer to cover the filling.  Carefully pour the remaining filling over the bananas.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie filling and put into the refrigerator, until chilled and set, about 4 hours.

To make the topping:
Before serving the pie, in a medium bowl, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla extract together with an electric mixer on medium-low for about 1 minute.  Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the pie.

Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

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