Great British Bake Off Challenge: Banana Cream Pie

When I saw this week's showstopper challenge was an American pie I was a very happy woman. I love pie. I love the idea of pie. Pie pie pie!

I spent hours poring over cookbooks hunting for the perfect pie recipe. Something that screamed classic American pie (but wasn't an apple pie). I own a great book of American pie recipes (Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes by Ken Haedrich), it's an incredible book but it was really difficult to choose from all the recipes. I was eventually inspired by my old favourite, The Hummingbird Bakery and their banana cream pie recipe. Banana cream just seemed so perfectly retro and classic in terms of an open pie recipe, and the perfect excuse to buy dulche de leche. 

I've got a busy week coming up this week. I'm in London on Wednesday assisting on a food photo shoot for a magazine...I cannot wait! The other half and I are also off to The Cake and Bake Show next Saturday and I've made a really exciting dinner reservation for afterwards. I won't go into details yet because there's a lot of mystery surrounding it so I'll report back afterwards.

One of the things I love about all these recipes I've been trying is the learning process. I always find something I can improve upon when I make it again even though I'm someone who can be a bit of a perfectionist with my baking. For example, with this recipe I know I rolled out my pastry a little too thin so I know for next time to remember to roll it thicker. I took the pie into work and left it in the kitchen (as I often do with my recipes) and it was cleared off pretty quickly. 

So lessons learnt this week include rolling pastry out thicker and people will never turn down free pie.

The pastry recipe for this is a perfect basic shortcrust. With the filling being so sweet I decided not to go for a sweet crust pastry. If I need to throw together pastry quickly this is the recipe I would go to.

Banana Cream Pie
(filling adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery)

Shortcrust Pastry:
250g plain flour
pinch of salt
110g butter, cold and cubed
30-45ml / 2-3 tablespoons cold water

Vanilla Custard:
500ml whole milk
1/4 vanilla custard
5 egg yolks
200g caster sugar
40g plain flour
40g cornflour

3 large bananas, ripe
200g dulche de leche
400ml whipping cream
ground cinnamon

For the pastry:
  1. Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you reach a course breadcrumb-like consistency. You need to work quickly to stop the butter becoming greasy.
  2. With a knife, stir in a little of the cold water, enough to bind the dough together.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Pre-heat your oven to 170 C/340 F. Roll out the dough (big enough to cover your pie dish) and place over the dish. Trim the edges and crimp or decorate with a fork. 
  5. Put greaseproof paper over and fill with baking beans or rice. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the beans and greaseproof paper and bake for another 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden. 
For the custard:

  1. Put 400ml of the milk and vanilla extract into a medium pan. Place over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and leave to cool down slightly.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornflour and remaining milk together to form a smooth paste.
  3. Pour a little of the hot milk mix into the egg mix and stir well to combine. Pour the remaining milk mix in and stir until all combined. 
  4. Pour everything back into the saucepan and place over a low heat until it starts to boil. Whisk continuously with a balloon whisk until thick, this should take about 5 minutes. 
  5. Pour the custard into a bowl, lay cling film directly on top to stop a skin forming and leave to cool completely. 
To assemble:

  1. Once the pie base has cooled, spread the dulche de leche over the base of the pie. 
  2. Slice the bananas and arrange on top of the caramel. Pour the custard over the bananas. Cover and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours until the custard has set completely.
  3. When you are ready to serve, whip the cream until soft peak stage. Spread over the pie and decorate with more slices of banana. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!