When I told you about my trip to Sint Maarten last month, I neglected to mention one little thing. My mother, my brother, and I ate two whole pies in a span of six days.
We went to a local grocery store on the island to pick up some staples. Some things were very, very expensive. Like a papaya for ten dollars, or a filet of salmon for forty. But some things were darn cheap.
The market had a table full of homemade pies. They were baked in foil plates, labeled with handwritten tags, and heavy with fruit. They had apple and plum varieties, but it was the banana pie for $4.99 that got our attention.
This was not banana cream territory we were wading into. This was a double-layer crust filled with fruit. We took the five-dollar gamble. And things worked out pleasantly for us and our pastry. So we went back a few days later for another round.
So well, in fact, that the memory of banana pie lingered longer than our tans. My brother researched and tested a recipe he found through an online query, substituting our Grandma Lee’s world-famous crust along the way. It was close. Very close. But the bananas were sliced a bit too thick. So, naturally, we had to bake another.
Which we did when we recently got together again to meet our new niece Olive. It was quite the weekend. Olive is an absolute dream. The famed Grandma Lee served us blueberry pie after our eggs on Saturday morning. And then we nailed—and I mean nailed—our banana number after dinner.
So consider a world where banana gets soaked in pineapple, spiced with cinnamon, dotted with butter, and encased in dough. A world where you don’t have to add tapioca or cornstarch. Where the fruit filling thickens on its own. As nature intended.
Now consider adding some coconut-spiked whipped cream.
I should also mention I find April in New England is a terrible time for fruit. Citrus is waning. Apples have been around since September. And the promise of local rhubarb and strawberries has not been fulfilled. As such, the global banana gets called into duty.
And here is its shining opus. A composition so good, in fact, that I made another last weekend. Which brings my official banana pie count to four for the month. And the collective’s to five. And I don’t feel the least bit sorry about any of it.
As nature intended.
Banana Pie with Coconut Rum Cream
for the crust
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup salted butter (see note), cut into 1-inch pieces
~¼ cup water, ice-cold
for the filling
6 cups sliced banana, ¼ inch thick (about 8 large bananas)
¾ cup pineapple juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flour
1 to 2 tbsp butter (salted or unsalted is fine)
for the whipped topping
1½ cup heavy cream
~1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 to 4 tbsp coconut rum
In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until rough, pea-sized pieces form (you want to see uneven chunks of butter in the dough). Sprinkle 2 tbsp ice-cold water over the mixture and toss lightly with a fork to moisten. Proceed with 2 more tbsp of water, or until the dough holds together, minimizing your handling of the dough and only adding just enough water so it holds together when pressed.
Pour the dough out onto an unfloured counter top and gather into a shaggy ball; wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to a thick disk; chill it in the fridge, ideally for an hour or so.
About 15 to 20 minutes before you are ready to assemble your pie, set your oven to 425 degrees and remove the dough from the fridge. In a large bowl, toss the banana slices with pineapple juice. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Set both mixtures aside (the banana should sit in the juice for 15 to 30 minutes).
Divide the dough in half. Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll half of your dough into a circle. To do this, start in the middle of the dough and roll outward, giving it a quarter turn every so often to evenly roll it out. Once the dough is roughly 2 inches larger than a 9-inch pie plate, roll the dough over your rolling pin and transfer it to your pie plate; ease it in and trim any uneven edges, leaving most of your overhang. Repeat the same process to roll out your top layer of dough.
Strain all but 3 tbsp of pineapple juice from the bananas. Toss the bananas, 3 tbsp reserved juice, and sugar mixture together. Pour into your pie plate and evenly spread. Dot with butter in four or five places. Roll the top half of your dough over your rolling pin and transfer it to cover the bananas. Crimp the edges together. Cut four slits in the center of your pie to allow for venting during baking.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream in a stand mixer or by hand. Once soft peaks form, slowly add in the powdered sugar and then the booze, to taste.
Cool the pie before serving. Top with dollop of whipped cream.
Serves 8 to 12
-By mistake, I used salted Land O’Lakes butter the first time I made the pie and actually preferred it to the unsalted version. I would suggest if you are using unsalted butter you should add another ½ tsp salt to the dough (This is based on the amount of salt in Land O’Lakes. In general, there is roughly 2400 mg sodium per tsp of salt.)
-The pie should keep a day or two at room temperature. If you plan on having it lasting longer than that, refrigerate after cutting into it.
-You can absolutely leave the whipped cream off, but it adds a nice tropical note.
-I make some of the ugliest pies known to man. So please excuse the frumpy pie you see before you.