We nearly always have bananas around our house.  Most of the time, they get eaten before they are too ripe. When they do get too ripe, they end up in banana bread, a smoothie, or the freezer. (To freeze bananas, peel them and put them in zip lock. They’ll last for months.)

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There’s no such thing as too ripe for baking but for the perfect banana pie, you want them ripe but still firm. Try to catch them just before they get soft.

Today, I’ll tell you how to make a traditional banana pie with a cooked cream filling as well as a banana pie made with Bavarian cream. You can make the Bavarian cream from scratch or use pre made Bavarian cream.

About the Crust

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Regardless of the pie you choose, you’ll need a premade pie crust. I don’t remember the last time that I made a pie crust from scratch; it’s too easy to grab a just-add-water pie crust mix. I can throw it in the mixer with the water for no more than a minute and my dough is ready to go. The crust is every bit as good as I can make from scratch. I form the crust, fill it with pie weights and bake it for about ten minutes in a 400 degree oven. While it’s baking, I work on the filling. I only let the crust cool for a few minutes before loading in the filling. 

Traditional Banana Cream Pie

1 pre made pie crust, baked
three small to medium-sized bananas
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 cups milk or light cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

  1. Place the dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add the milk or light cream and whisk together. Add the egg yolks and whisk those in.
  2. Heat over low heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is thick and just begins to bubble. Add the butter and vanilla and stir.
  3. Let the mixture cool for fifteen minutes. Spread the banana slices evenly across the bottom of the pie shell. Pour the filling over the banana slices. Chill for several hours. Garnish with whipped cream. 

A Banana Cream Pie Made with Bavarian Cream

Full-Banana-Cream-Pie4You can make a banana cream pie exactly the same way with Bavarian cream. Bavarian cream is softer, not as firm, as the cooked filling above and so the slices are not as neat and clean. We compensate for that by adding more bananas and interspersing the bananas with the cream-a layer of bananas, then a layer of cream then a layer of bananas again topped with cream filling. 

If you have a really good nonstick pan, you can slide your pie out of the pan onto a cutting board. (See the picture of the pie at the top of this article.) It’s easier to slice and serve a nice neat slice from a cutting board. If you do slip your pie from the pan, first twist it just a bit to make sure the crust isn’t sticking anywhere. 

You can make your Bavarian cream from scratch or buy pre made Bavarian cream filling. Bavarian cream comes in two-pound plastic tubes. Simply clip the corner and squeeze out what you need. Fold the corner over, put a paper clip on it, and store the rest in the refrigerator for up to six months. Bavarian cream is also used as a filling in pastries and donuts, for filling cupcakes, between cake layers, in crepes, and in many other applications. 

To make your own Bavarian cream
1 packet unflavored gelatin, about one tablespoon
3 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 1/4 cups whipped cream
1 tablespoongood quality vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whipped cream (second measure)

  1. Place the milk in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin into the milk and set aside.
  2. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together.
  3. Heat the cream until it just starts to simmer. Do not boil. Slowly whisk the hot cream into the egg mixture to temper the eggs.
  4. Cook the mixture in a double boiler or over simmering water, stirring, until it starts to thicken and simmer. Remove the cream mixture from heat and stir in the milk and gelatin mixture. Add the vanilla. 
  5. Pour the cream mixture into a bowl and place bowl in an ice bath and stir until the mixture cools to room temperature.
  6. Whip the second measure of whipped cream. Fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until you are ready to use the Bavarian Cream.

Banana Cream Pie Variations

Full-Chococlate-Banana-Cream-Pie2To make a Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie, make as above except add a layer of chocolate ganache across the bottom of the pie crust, a chocolate layer under the banana filling. Ganache is wonderful, all-purpose, chocolate filling that is used in pastries, cake coatings, and as filling between cake layers. Here’s how to make it:

Chocolate Ganache
1 cup dark chocolate wafers or dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
Put all three ingredients in a medium, microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave it in 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted, stirring between intervals. The ganache will thicken as it cools. You may thin it further with additional cream. 

To make a Chocolate Banana Cream Pie Make your pie as above but use Chocolate Bavarian Cream

 Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here.