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Old 07-03-2005, 05:47 PM   #1
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Help with thickening

This is the terms and techniques section, so I'm asking for help with a technique.

Yesterday, I tried three things that I've never made before; maki-sushi, key-lime pie, and from scratch banana-cream pie. The sushi and key-lime pies came out like I'd been making them all my life. The banana-cream pie, though edible, wasn't nearly as good in quality as I wanted.

I used a standard graham cracker/butter/sugar crust, that was perfect. For the filling, I used about 12 oz. cream, with a quarter cup of milk, and 3.4 cup of sugar, and blended in about 5 medium, very ripe bananas. I heated the mixture to a slow boil and added cornstarch slurry to thicken. When the filling was partially cool, I folded in three sliced bananas. I placed the whole thing in the fridge to cool.

The filling was stiff enough, but had too much of a cooked banana flavor, and was very starchy in taste as well. Like I said, it was edible, but not great. I always strive for great, and incredible when I can get it.

So, I need to know what type of starch should I be using, and should I blend the banana into the thickend cream/sugar filling after it's cooked? Or is this more of a custard dish, with egg yolks acting as thickener.

Any help would be appreciated. And I'm not so much looking for a recipe, as for proper technique. For I feel that technique is far more important than an exact recipe. Proper technique allows one to play with the desired dish, and "customize" it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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Old 07-03-2005, 06:12 PM   #2
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Goodweed:

I can't help you directly, I've never made a banana cream pie.

When I tackle a new recipe for the first time, I gather and compare established and successful recipes from numerous sources. I compare the ingredients lists in all the recipes as well as the techniques to develop my favored combination for my version of the recipe.

Just a thought...
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Old 07-03-2005, 07:09 PM   #3
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Andy; I know that's what I should do. But sometimes, I just have to re-invent the wheel, to test my basic techniques knowledge. Usually I come out Ok. And when I don't, then I ask for other opinions, but just for enough info so that I can again test myself. I only use recipes when I know absolutely nothing about what I'm attempting to make, like the maki-sushi. I'd never had, seen, or seen a recipe for the stuff. But I know it existed. So I went with a recipe. The rolling technique, even without the bamboo mat was very easy.

But thanks for the advice. It's sound.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 07-03-2005, 07:58 PM   #4
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my only thought is that maybe the starch wasn't completely cooked out?
your pie sounds fabulous, regardless.
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Old 07-04-2005, 05:13 AM   #5
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Goodweed, my old friend - off the top of my head it sounds like you were trying to make a basic pastry cream pie with a few oops ... as your tasters have already told you, over cooked banana mash and undercooked starch.

I loaned my copy of Cookwise to my aunt a couple of days ago .. I know Shirley Corrier had something in there about making pastry cream pies. I'll try to drive over there later today and check on it for you.

The best I can remember off the top of my head (from what my grandmother did making lemon pies and being amazed that it kinda' fit with Cookwise) ... you only heat the milk to a LOW simmer to extract the flavor from the vanilla bean - then drizzle it slowly while whisking into the sugar, cream and cornstarch ... this get's cooked at a low simmer for a few minutes until it begins to thicken (which would cook out the raw taste of the constarch) ... then you temper the egg yolks, add them back into the milk/cream/sugar/cornstarch mix .... then gently bring up just to a boil and whisk until thickened.

I would make the basic pastry cream ... allow to cool a bit, whisk in the mashed bananas .... then fold in the sliced bananas - and pour into the crust.

I know you don't want a recipe - but sometimes a recipe that works can help you reverse engineer the technique. I don't know when I'll get home - but I'll post what I find as soon as I get home from the fireworks and family BBQ.

Oh yeah - something else that would work as a thickener would be tapioca - and I've NEVER used it.
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Old 07-04-2005, 08:06 AM   #6
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I gaave up on making home made bananna cream pies. They never thicken up. I tried so many times it was a waste of good banannas. I now buy the instant pudding filling and the pies come out great.Good luck on your home made pies.
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Old 07-04-2005, 09:09 AM   #7
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When a guy's in need, he can count on his freinds.
Andy, Michael, and Thumpershere are freinds indeed.

My wife suggested I use the pudding solution. But I just have to figure it out. That's just who I am. And Michael, What you said makes sense, now that I think about it. I didn't use egg yolk in my filling. I think I had maybe too much cornstarch in it. A combination of the two would avoid the custard texture, but still give it enough stiffness to hold together once sliced. And I have used tapioca starch. In fact, it's the only starch I'll use with freshly picked blueberries for blueberry pie. It has a wonderful texture for that purpose, a cross between a jelly and cream consistancy that holds without being rubbery, and with no flavor of its own. I may just try tapioca starch with the bananas. I have some in the house, but have misplaced it (actually, my oldest daughter and her husband house-sat for us while we were away in California and re-arranged the kitchen somewhat. We're still trying to find some things . But I'll find it.

Drat! We have a thunderstorm going on, complete with rain. It's good for my lawn and berry bushes and plants, but I'm going to be barbecuing a smoked turkey in the rain. Oh well. As my last name is Flowers, I'll just tell those who see me out there getting wet; "The Flowers need watering today.", heh heh.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 07-05-2005, 01:40 PM   #8
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Well, I almost got it right from memory ...

From Cookwise (pages 217-218) - paraphrasing some parts and adding comments.

Pastry Cream (Creme Patissiere)

1 vanilla bean
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy or whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
5 large egg yolks

1. [Split the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds, and add the seeds and the bean] to a medium saucepan with the milk and cream. Heat over medium heat until the mixture just begins to steam. Stir the sugar, a generous pinch of salt, and cornstarch together in another medium saucepan. Remove the vanilla bean from the hot milk. Drizzle the hot milk into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.

2. Stir the egg yolks together in a bowl. Stir about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture into the yolks [temper the yolks], then scrape the yold mixture into the saucepan. Return to the heat and bring [almost] to a gentle boil, stirring constantly, until the custard becomes thick and smooth.

3. Transfer custard to a bowl. Dot the surface with butter or cover with a piece of plastic wrap touching the entire surface of the custard. [prevents a "skin" from forming on top] Refrigerate until needed.

Combining the above recipe, and yours - I would use the above for the custard ... although I might be prone to use a good vanilla extract instead of the beans (cheaper) until I figured out the texture thing. I would only let the custard cool to warm before I whisked in the mashed bananas - then fold in the sliced - and pour into the crust ... then refrigerate the finished pie.

I've never tried to make a pie like this - so this is by no means a TNT from me! But, I trust Shriley to be on the right track in the food science department ... so it's something you can compare what you did against and get some ideas.

Let me know your thinking and what you come up with. I'm curious now ... but had too much cobbler yesterday to be in any rush for another sugar high for a couple of weeks or so.
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Old 07-05-2005, 05:35 PM   #9
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Michael; Thanks a great heap . Like you, I'm about done with deserts for a spell. I have to watch my sweets, even though when I do have any, it's in extreme moderation. I made a home made pie with a blind baked pie crust and then filled with fresh-slice strawberries covered with strawberry glaze, freshly whipped cream, and dotted with bluberries. That pie is sooooo good, and soooo rich . The flavor is intense and requires just a small piece to satisfy.

But I digress. The technique you have posted looks sound. I just have to wait for some bananas to ripen. I kow my wife will be up for the test. She has an insatiable sweet tooth. Again, thanks.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 07-06-2005, 11:19 AM   #10
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Goodweed, I think bananas have some sort of enzyme or something in them that breaks down in the dairy; I've never seen a banana cream recipe that calls for the banana to be cooked in with the pastry cream; they're always added in slices afterwards.
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