The big, generous, family pie is something the Americans do best. Deep dish fruit pies stuffed full of apples or cherries. Smooth pumpkin or crunchy pecan pie, rich and decadent peanut butter or Mississippi mud pie. This one is my current favorite and possibly the easiest of the lot - the banana cream pie.
It is not an sophisticated dessert by any means, ripe bananas hiding in a smooth thick custard, but it is very good - I most often make mine on a sweet shortcrust pastry, but a packet of plain shortbread or another plain biscuit or cookie makes it even easier as you won't even have to turn the oven on. This is a favorite with children and people with ill-fitting dentures.
American banana cream pie
For the base
250g plain flour
125g butter, chilled, chopped
75 g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chilled water
For the filling
1 tin (approx 250ml) condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp cornflour
4 egg yolks
3 large bananas, roughly chopped
For the topping
2 large bananas, thinly sliced
approximately 500ml whipped cream
a little grated chocolate if liked
Make the base: For the sweet pastry base combine flour, butter and sugar in a food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add yolk and chilled water. Process until dough just comes together. Turn pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until just smooth. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to about a 3mm-thick disc. Line a round 23cm tart tin, with removable base or pie dish with pastry and trim any excess. Place in the fridge for a further 15 minutes to rest.
Cover the pastry base with baking paper and fill with ceramic baking beans, rice or dried beans. Place on a baking tray and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and pastry weights, rice or beans, and bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven.
(For a biscuit base place a medium packet of biscuits in a food processor. Process until they are completely broken up and there are no big lumps visible. Place in the bottom of a deep pie dish between 10" - 12". mix in 2 tablespoons of melted butter, press down with the back of a spoon to line the base and refridgerate for 30 mins.)
Make the filling: Bring the milk, cream, condensed milk and vanilla to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk together the cornflour and egg yolks. When the milk mixture is hot, spoon some of it onto the egg yolk mixture and whisk well. Pour the egg yolks back in the pot and allow to heat slowly while stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick - just a couple of minuets should do it.
Mix in the chopped bananas and pour onto the biscuits or pastry shell. Push down any bananas near the top as they will discolour if they are too close to the surface. Place a piece of cling wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and put it in the fridge for 2-3 hours until set.
To serve: Remove the cling wrap, dollop the whipped cream on top, arrange the sliced bananas on the pie. grate some chocolate over (if desired) and serve maybe with a little drizzle of maple syrup.