I was first introduced to Banana Cream Pie years ago when I visited Los Angeles years ago and was hanging out with my friend Emmie. Emmie had moved to California a few years before I had made the move west, to pursuing acting (though she got sidetracked and eventually ended up launching an awesome and successful greeting card business called Fomato – everyone run and buy some cards from her). One afternoon, Emmie got it in her head that she was going to introduce me to the best banana cream pie in all of Los Angeles. We drove all over Los Angeles trying to track it down, this heavenly slice of banana cream pie that Emmie had such fantastic nostalgic memories of. “We have to find it!” Emmie told me, describe the experience as “So amazing tasting. It was like eating banana flavored concrete. But in a good way.” Food critic Jonathan Gold clearly was quaking in his boots, fearful that up-and-coming Emmie was nipping at his toes with her evocative descriptive food phrases. Sadly, when we found said Banana Cream Pie, it tasted nothing like concrete. Even Emmie was disappointed with it, telling me it was good, but “not concrete banana pie good.” I hadn’t really thought about that experience until I made this Banana Coconut Cream Pie for a party I had help host down in LA.
It turns out that Banana Cream Pie is quite ubiquitous all over Los Angeles but not really that common outside the City of Angels. I mean it exists, and people know about it, but for whatever reason Los Angelinos have really embraced the pie and it’s available in pretty much every dive diner and coffee shop that serves pies. So it came to no surprise to me that when I received the lovely new cookbook by Joy Wilson, otherwise known as Joy the Baker, who coincidentally lives in Los Angeles, that there would be a recipe for her own twist on the Banana Cream Pie, one that mashes it up with Coconut Cream Pie.
I had met Joy once, back in November at the Foodbuzz Fest where I talked about social media and she talked about being Joy. It was brief meeting though I have certainly bantered back and forth with her on Twitter and such. She’s a lovely woman, warm, easy going and friendly, exactly like her blog, cookbook and podcast would suggest. I had brought her cookbook to LA recently, when AJ and I escaped for a quick get away vacation. We had plans to host one of our “pie and pie” parties where AJ makes pizzas and I make pies and we serve them up to a gaggle of friends. I had hoped that the Joy the Baker cookbook would inspire me to move beyond my usual rut of pies that I make. Thankfully it did, as the evening ended up a good time for all involved. Turns out pizzas and pies as party food makes it pretty easy to accommodate most diets (from vegan to gluten free) as long as no one is super sensitive to cross contaminations.
I ended up making four different pies, all new recipes for me, though one of them, a gluten free apple pie was more of a FAIL than anything else. I should have known better than to use the stone ground rice flour, as it tends to be really gritty, but it was all I had brought down from San Francisco. Nevertheless, Gavi who had recently developed a gluten allergy, along with her two dads, were thrilled that there was food available to eat (even if the pie was only passable). Thankfully the gluten free vegan pizza (she had also become allergic to egg and dairy as well) was a win for her as she scarfed down two slices. But the banana coconut cream pie. This one was a winner. I barely was able to put aside a slice of it for me to photograph, because people were clamoring for more.
Of course, this should come as no surprise for anyone who reads or is a fan of Joy the Baker. Joy is the queen of approachable. While I spin ridiculous recipes with hard to find ingredients and obscure flavor combinations, Joy takes a classic recipe, updates it with a slight contemporary twists and delivers it on a platter to the reader in her witty, slightly self-deprecating way that makes you feel like you’re her best friend. And if you lived in the same city as her, you probably would be. Or at least that’s what I tell myself whenever I read her blog. Joy and I would totally be BFFs if I lived in LA or she lived in SF (shhh…don’t tell me differently, I wanna keep on living the lie). But since we don’t live in the same city, I have her cookbook to keep me company, and, um, Twitter. It’s almost the same thing, right?
Emmie never did find her banana concrete cream pie, but she seemed pretty happy with the banana coconut cream pie that I served up at that night. I was even able to get a few LA food bloggers, including Allison of Sushi Day to stop by to say hello and eat a slice or two of pizza and pie. I adore Los Angeles and hope to go back soon. Maybe I’ll even invite Joy over next time for pizza and pie. Because, you know, we’re totes BFFs. Well me, and the other four million other readers of her blog.
Special thanks goes to Hyperion for providing me a review copy of Joy the Baker Cookbook. Though the book was provided by them, I was not compensated for anything I wrote above and all opinions are my own.
Banana Coconut Cream Pie
Banana Cream Pie and Coconut Cream Pie are two fantastic pies, but the combination of the two just makes each shine all the more. The initial recipe by Joy uses a graham cracker coconut crust, but I went with a more traditional pastry crust. If you want to pump up the coconut flavor, feel free to substitute 1 cup of full fat coconut milk for 1 cup of the heavy whipping cream. You’ll also note that I use two vanilla beans (one for the filling and one for the topping) for this recipe because I love the punch of fresh vanilla beans in this recipe. That said, I know vanilla beans are expensive, so feel free to substitute 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract for each of the beans.
Recipe adapted from the Joy the Baker Cookbook
By Irvin Lin
245 g (1 3/4 cup) all purpose flour
150 g (1/2 cup + 3 tablespoons) cold salted butter
3 tablespoon ice water
3 tablespoon cold vodka or light rum
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated white sugar
50 g (1/3 cup) cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
30 g (2 tablespoons) coconut oil
160 g (2 cups) unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
3 ripe medium bananas
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
30 g (1/4 cup) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 vanilla bean
1 ripe banana
1 tablespoon lemon juice
(40 g) 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (reserved from the filling)
9 inch pie pan
pie weights or dry beans or uncooked rice
1. Make the crust dough by placing the flour in a large mixing bowl. Cut up the butter into 1/2 inch chunks and sprinkle over the flour and toss to coat. Flatten the cubes of butter with your fingers until all the butter has been smashed. Then start rubbing and squeezing the flour and butter together with your fingers, until the ingredients start to clump together. Sprinkle the water and rum over the mixture and toss with a fork until it forms a dough. If the dough seems too wet, sprinkle a little more flour onto it and fold it in, but the dough is meant to be a bit wet. Gather the dough and flatten it into a large 1/2” thick disk. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven at 375˚F and roll out the chilled dough on a generously floured surface. The nice thing about this dough is that you can use as much flour as you need, as it is pretty forgiving. Roll it out to 10 inches and then fit it into a 9 inch pie pan. Decorative flute the edges of the crust, place a piece of parchment paper on the inside of the crust, and fill it with pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes then remove the parchment paper with the pie weights and continue to bake the crust for another 7 to 10 minutes or until the crust looks dry and fully baked. Let cool completely.
3. Make the filling by placing the sugar, cornstarch, sea salt, egg yolks and vanilla extract in the medium sized heat proof bowl. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl with the egg yolks. Stir the entire mixture into a paste. Then place the cream, milk and the empty vanilla pod in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, being careful that it doesn’t boil. Once you start to see bubbles on the side of the pot form, remove it from the heat and pour a third of the liquid in a slow and thin stream into the egg yolk paste, while whisking it. Once the egg yolks have warmed up and loosened, scrape the entire mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly until it boils and gets extremely thick about five minutes or so. Remove from heat. Add the coconut oil to the filling and whisk to incorporate.
4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap and pour the filling onto the baking sheet. Using a large spatula, spread the filling over the baking sheet and stir it back and forth to let it cool quickly. Once the filling has cooled to room temperature, spoon and scrape the filling into a non reactive bowl (glass or ceramic) and cover the filling with the used plastic wrap form the baking sheet. Make sure to press the plastic wrap to the surface of the filling, to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator for an hour.
5. While the filling cools, place the shredded coconut in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium high. Stir the coconut constantly until it starts to brown, about two or three minutes. Remove immediately from the heat.
6. Once the filling has chilled, remove the vanilla pod and fold in 120 g (1 1/2 cups) of the toasted shredded coconut (reserving 1/2 cup for the topping). Slice up the three bananas and fold it into the filling. Spoon the filling into the baked pie crust.
7. Make the topping by placing the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream. Whip the cream on high speed until peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream over the pie filling. Slice a banana and toss the banana slices in the lemon juice to keep the banana from browning. Place the banana slices over the center of the pie, and sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of toasted shredded coconut around the edges of the pie. Serve immediately.
Makes one 9 inch pie, serves 12 people.