Thursday, May 20, 2021

Old Time Banana Cream Pie @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: I’m working on the twelfth Key West food critic mystery, which will emerge from its cocoon in 2022. It's too early to have a title or a cover or even a well-developed plot. However, one of the plot strands in this book has to do with the Woman’s Club in Key West, which is a gorgeous old home on Duval Street. I took a tour of the building this spring, and happily received the 1988 version of their cookbook. I had also found an earlier edition of the  book published in 1949. 

Oh my, the recipes and stories in those cookbooks have my mind racing with possibilities! I decided I would cook some of them since Hayley Snow and her caterer mother will be using these books. This banana cream pie is the first I've tried. I chose to make a graham cracker crust, but any crust is fine.


For the crust

One package graham crackers (nine sheets)

2 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter

For the pie

2 ripe bananas

2 cups whole milk

3 eggs, room temperature, separated

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons water

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the meringue

3 egg whites (see above)

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. 

To make the crust, smash or whirl the crackers to crumbs. Melt the butter. Stir the butter and sugar into the crumbs and press this mixture into the bottom and sides of a 10 inch pie pan. Bake for ten minutes and let that cool.

For the pudding, separate the eggs and set the whites aside. Beat the yolks with the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cold water. Heat the milk until it's about to boil, then stir in the egg mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. (About five minutes.) Let that cool a bit.

Slice the bananas into the pie crust. Spread the pudding on top of the bananas.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks appear. Continue beating with the sugar until peaks are stiff and glossy--about 5 minutes. 

Mound the meringue onto the pudding, arranging it into peaks. (Mine weren't as photogenic as I'd hoped--I think I overdid the beating.)

Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until the meringue begins to brown. Refrigerate the pie for three hours before serving.

Messy but so delicious!

Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mysteries. A SCONE OF CONTENTION will be out on August 10! The paperback edition of THE KEY LIME CRIME will be published on July 13.


  1. I do love old community cook books! usually the recipes are tried and true ones. This pie recipe sounds like what I might make but my family and I prefer whipped cream to meringue. Of course that leaves me wasting several egg whites.

  2. I actually prefer whipped cream too, but sometimes meringue seems right. You could always freeze the whites, right?

  3. I love those old community cookbooks, too -- one inspired one of the short stories in my new collection. I'm not actually a big fan of cream pie, but it is such a diner and cafe classic, isn't it?

    1. But you are clan of the pie! I love any kind of cream pie--coconut, chocolate, key lime--I'd take a piece of any one right now...

  4. I love the old community cook books, I have a couple of old church cook books. Thanks for the review I'm looking forward to reading it love the Key West, thanks for the recipe

  5. Phooey. Just went to post this and it vanished!
    Banana cream pie is a favorite of my husband's. He used to get it at a diner in East Orange, NJ. One year his mom surprised him by buying a whole pie for his birthday celebration.
    I don't have success with puddings. They don't "pud". Same with other similar foods like Welsh Rarebit. They won't solidify properly.

    Have you had time to compare the two cookbooks? Can you tell the differences in their times by the recipes and/or ingredients? Any jello salads?

    1. Libby, didn't know your hubby was from NJ. I grew up in New Providence and lived in Summit for almost 20 years! Every day my train to NYC went through East Orange.

    2. I'm a Jersey girl too, from the town right next to NP. Such a small world!

    3. Rick grew up in East orange. I grew up in Bernardsville. Yes. Meryl Streep was in my class in high school.
      Ah, these Jersey girls!!!

    4. PS The East Orange diner had wicked good fries with gravy, too!