Banana Meringue Piefrom Saved by Cake: More Than 80 Ways to Bake Yourself Happy by Marian Keyes
For the pastry:1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
7 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
For the banana custard:2 cups milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue later)
1 teaspoon banana extract
4 tablespoons (!4 stick) butter, chilled and cut into cubes
4 medium bananas
For the meringue:4 egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch of salt
This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Saved by Cake: More Than 80 Ways to Bake Yourself Happy by Marian Keyes
This should only be attempted when you have lots of time and a great desire to concentrate on something other than yourself. This is a three-part challenge-you have to make and bake the pastry base (take a look at the Pastry section of this book if you haven't made pastry before), you have to create the banana custard from scratch, and you have to whip, whirl, and bake the meringue topping. Even cutting this beast into slices has to be done in a special way. However! Yes, however! The finished pie looks and tastes AMAZING. You will be so proud of yourself.
I know I shouldn't be advocating artificial stuff, but I adore banana extract. I get it in my local Asian shop. It's so riddled with chemicals that I think it might actually be illegal. Nevertheless, delicious.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the pastry by sifting the flour and salt into a bowl, then adding the cubed butter. Use the tips of your fingers to rub small pieces of butter and small pieces of flour together, until the mixture begins to resemble fine breadcrumbs. Add a tablespoon or two of cold water if needed.
Refrigerate the pastry for an hour, then roll it out onto a floured surface. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and liberally butter an 8-inch pie plate or dish with a 2-inch depth and line it with the pastry. Blind bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and keep standing by.
To make the banana custard, start by scalding the milk. In a separate saucepan-a big one, big enough to eventually hold all the custard ingredients-sift the sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually whisk in the hot milk. Stirring constantly-the mixture will go really quite thick and resistant, you should build up a bit of a sweat-bring to a boil, cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks for a couple of minutes, then slowly add in a cupful of the hot milk/sugar mixture. Keep whisking until fully incorporated, then pour all of this egg yolk/flour/sugar mixture into the saucepan, where the majority of the milk/sugar mixture awaits you. (The reason for all this toing and froing is to even out the temperature, so that the egg yolks don't scramble.)
Cook over low heat for a few minutes and the mixture will thicken up even more. Remove from the heat, then add the banana extract and the cubed butter. Stir until the butter has melted, then leave the mixture to cool down to room temperature. Because this is a custard, there's a high likelihood that a skin will form on the surface. If the thought of this gives you the shudders, cover the custard with a circle of parchment paper-like, literally have the parchment paper resting on the custard, not just above it.
Slice the bananas thinly and line the pastry base with them, in an overlapping pattern. When the custard has cooled, remove the parchment paper. Scoop the custard into the pastry shell, covering the sliced bananas. Use your purple spatula (see page 16) to spread it evenly. Leave to set for a couple of hours.
When the time is upon you, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the meringue by beating the egg whites until they're stiff. Gradually add the sugar, then the cream of tartar and salt. Swirl the meringue on top of the set custard, making sure it comes right to the edges of the pastry because when it bakes and eventually cools, it will contract slightly and you don't want it exposing the filling underneath.
Bake for 20 minutes, until it's a pale beige color and crisp to the touch. However! WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! The eggs won't be cooked through, so don't give this otherwise impeccable pie to vulnerable types—by that, I mean children, old folk, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems. It's very unlikely that they'll get salmonella, but like I said on page 108, we live in litigious times. Also, you don't want anything bad on your conscience—God knows, we struggle enough with existential guilt without having poisoned someone, no? Cool the pie on a rack, then refrigerate for a couple of hours.
To slice: SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS! Have a bowl of very hot water standing by. Dip a sharp knife into the hot water, and cut a slice through the meringue, but not down into the custard and pastry. Dip the knife into the water again, then do another slice through the meringue. Continue to mark out slices through the meringue, re-dipping the knife in the water after each go. When all the slices are marked out in the meringue, then, and only then, cut all the way down through the custard and pastry.
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