Here I am celebrating Thanksgiving with a memory of my paternal grandmother.
Lois Larue Breakall was born in 1922 in McKeesport PA into a family who had lived in Pennsylvania since the mid-1700s (mostly Fulton County). She was proud of her heritage and introduced me to the genealogical research that led to my grandfather’s (her husband’s) ancestors in eastern and central Europe.
Grandma served in the Air Force during WWII and was a strict Baptist her entire life. She also happened to be an excellent cook and after my father migrated to Australia one of the things he missed most about America was Grandma’s cooking.
One of Dad’s favourites was Grandma’s Banana Cream Pie. As a kid he’s talk about this mythical pie and conjure up such vivid descriptions of flavours that I could almost taste it too. When they would visit us in Australia, or we’d go to the States to visit them, Grandma would make Dad and all of us Banana Cream Pie.
That’s why I chose it as one of my Food Memories for my 2008 Food Challenges.
A week ago Dad and my Stepmum came to visit us, so I tried to replicate Grandma’s pie.
Unfortunately I didn’t have time to make a true tart base and had to use cookie crumbs, but otherwise it was just as we both remembered. As my Stepmum pointed out, Dad would probably just prefer the custard, banana and cream without the base anyway!
The most important part of making a Banana Cream Pie is balancing out the sweetness of the custard and cream and using plenty of not-too-ripe banana.
When people pass away we lose so much more than just their company.
Grandma’s cooking provided sensory memories of home and family and good times that disappeared with her. I really value having recipes from her and my mother because when I really miss them I can cook something special and reach out to them through the flavours.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Banana Cream Pie
Based on a recipe from Tartine via Tartelette. Serves 8-12.
1 tablespoon icing sugar
Sweet tart shell
3 bananas, sliced
250ml heavy cream
85g bitter sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons icing sugar
Custard Filling:2 cups/ 500ml whole milk
1 vanilla bean, cut open down the middle, seeded
¼ tsp of salt
4 tablespoons of cornstarch
½ cup/ 110gr. sugar
2 large eggs
40g butter, cut in small cubes
1. Set the chocolate into a bowl.
2. Heat the heavy cream and icing sugar to boiling point and pour over the chocolate.
3. Let stand a couple of minutes then stir until fully incorporated and glossy. Cool to room temperature. Pour over the pastry shell and refrigerate.
4. Heat the milk, vanilla seeds and salt in a pan and bring to a boil over a medium heat.
5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs until smooth.
6. Slowly add half of the warm milk mixture into the egg and whisk constantly to temper them.
7. Add the remaining milk, whisking, and return the whole thing to the saucepan.
8. Cook until you get a thick consistency, whisking non-stop.
9. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl, let cool for 10 minutes and then incorporate the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until smooth .
10. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, directly touching the cream, then cool completely in fridge.
11. Cut 2 ripe bananas in medium-thick slices and arrange them over the chocolate layer.
12. Pour cooled custard on top of the banana. Refrigerate.
14. In a bowl, combine cream and icing sugar and whip until soft peaks form.
15. Top custard with whipped cream, decorate with bananas and serve with ice cream.
Note: cake without cream and banana top can be refrigerated to serve within 24hrs.
Tags: morsels and musings food blog food and drink australia recipes banana cream pie dessert banana pies banana cream pie recipes pie recipes banana recipes dessert recipes american recipes american food american cuisine