Full disclosure, I had never baked a single pie until lockdown. But a while back I had bought a pie plate and I was determined to learn how to bake pie while we were all stuck at home thanks to Covid-19. And so I did. Of course, I waited until temperatures were comfortable hovering around the mid-twenties, just to add to the challenge. And yes, it took me multiple attempts to nail the process. And there may have been one sorry-looking soggy and shrunk pie crust that went straight to the bin. So don’t be disheartened if your first attempt leaves room for improvement. But over the past month, I prepared multiple pies, trying out different ratios of ingredients and different ways of mixing them to get that perfectly flaky pie crust. So in addition to the recipe for this Miso Banana Custard Pie, below I also share my tips for pie-baking success – so hopefully you can avoid some of the beginner mistakes I made.
As for the flavour of this pie, banana + miso is a perennial favourite in this household. Think of it as like a grown up version of Salted Caramel. Or Banoffee Pie in custard form. Plus, after 2(+) months of lockdown you might well be sick of eating banana bread. If so, and rather conveniently, this recipe is also a tasty way of using up a handful of spotty bananas. And who can argue with a crisp and flaky pie crust filled with a smooth and soft custard?
If you have never baked pie before, don’t be scared. There are a couple of tips and tricks for pie baking success:
- Keep everything nice and cold: Make sure your butter is very cold – if your fridge runs warm, place your cubed butter on a plate and place in the freezer for 10-20 minutes. Using ice water further helps keep things cool, especially now in the summertime when your kitchen might be particularly hot. This way, your butter will not melt into the pie dough. If at any time you feel the butter is getting too soft and starting to melt, simply place your mixing bowl (or even your partially rolled out dough) in the freezer for 10-20 minutes. In fact, think of the fridge and freezer as your friend when it comes to baking pie – both great for making sure your ingredients are nice and cold to begin with, the perfect place to keep your pie dough before you are ready to roll it out, to bring your dough back to temperature should it get too hot and where you also want to keep your lined pie plate before baking your pie.
- Resist shrinkage: One common complaint of first time pie bakers is that their crust shrunk in the oven. And yes, the same thing happened to me one of the first times I tried baking a pie. But there are easy ways of avoiding that. When you roll out your pie crust make sure you roll it out into an even circle (or as close to that you can get it) and that it’s 2.5-5cm wider than your pie plate when turned upside down (you will use the overhang to create the rim of your pie, which in turn will also help prevent the sides of your pie sinking down in the oven). Also, when lining your pie plate, make sure you are as gentle as possible – you want to avoid stretching the dough because wherever you stretch the dough, the dough will shrink back in the oven. And, be generous with your baking beans – make sure that once your raw pie crust is lined with parchment paper you cover not just the bottom of the pie crust with baking beans but that you go all the way up to the sides of the pie crust.
- Practice: Baking pie isn’t (and shouldn’) be difficult. But, and this goes without saying, the more you practice making a pie crust, the easier it will become. And maybe try different recipes and different techniques for bringing together the dough until you find one that feels right to you. And once you master pie crust, you can easily pull off learning how to make rough puff pastry, real puff pastry and other flaky doughs – you already learned the key principles underlying all of these.
Also, if with all of this your are wondering why you should even bother, all I can say is that learning how to bake a pie is really satisfying. It feels like one of those baking skills that is genuinely useful to have. After all, you can bake pie all year long, filling pies with apples or pears or fruits from the freezer in fall and winter and fresh berries in spring and summer. And of course there are all kinds of custard pies you can bake all year long – be it this Miso Banana Custard Pie or a simple vanilla custard pie, matcha custard pie, chocolate custard pie, salted honey custard pie, a citrus-flavoured custard pie or maybe a passion fruit custard pie? The options are endless and you probably already have everything at home you will need to bake a delicious pie.
Miso Banana Custard Pie
Notes: While you can make the pie crust in advance, you should wait to mix together the ingredients for the banana miso custard until you are ready to bake the pie. And ideally you should bake the pie on the day you are planning to eat it. While the pie will easily keep for a few days, it tastes best on the day it’s made when the crust is perfectly crisp and flaky and contrasts so nicely against that smooth and creamy custard filling. Serve as is or with a scoop of your favourite ice cream or a spoon of some lightly sweetened whipped cream on the side.
For the pie crust
1 bowl of ice cubes
175g all purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
125g cold butter, cubed
For the filling
4 medium-sized bananas, ca 350-400g in total
2 tbsp white miso (also called shiro or sweet miso)
3 eggs and 1 yolk
Egg wash: 1 egg white
Start by making the pie dough. Pour the water into the bowl with ice cubes and place in the freezer. In a bowl whisk together the flour with the sugar and salt. Add ¼ of the butter and cut or rub into the flour until the mixture turns sandy. Add the remaining butter, dust with some of the flour and squeeze each piece of butter between your thumb and index and middle fingers so you end up with long and flat strands of butter, tossing them with more flour as you go along.
Next, take your bowl with ice cubes and water out of the freezer. Create a well in the middle of your flour and butter mix and add your ice water one tablespoon at a time, mixing gently to distribute evenly after each addition. Once you have added 2 or 3 tablespoons worth of water, try squeezing the mixture together between your hands to see whether it is already starting to come together. Continuing adding ice water until the mixture comes together in one big ball of dough with only a few dry bits left in the bowl – 4-5 tablespoons of water should do the trick. Knead briefly to incorporate any dry bits left in the bowl or on the outside of your ball of dough. Shape the dough into a flat round disk, wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2h.
On a generously dusted surface carefully roll out the dough into a circle 2.5-5cm bigger than your pie plate. Carefully transfer the dough to your pie plate – the easiest way to do this is to either gently wrap the dough around your rolling pin and carefully unrolling it over the pie plate or simply folding the dough in half and then in half again. I prefer the latter technique because it also makes it easier to centre the dough in your pie plate.
Carefully centre the dough in your pie plate and carefully press the dough against the bottom and the sides of the pie plate, making sure not to stretch the dough as you do so (since this risks shrinkage post baking). All around the pie plate fold the edge under itself and crimp the edge whichever way you like. Place in the freezer while you pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Prick the pie base all over with the tins of a fork, line the pie base with aluminium foil and cover with baking beans (making sure the baking beans reach all the way to the sides of the pie plate). Bake the pie base for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the baking beans and aluminium foil. Brush the pie all over with egg white and return to the oven for a further 3 minutes.
While the pie base is pre-baking, prepare the banana miso custard filling. Add the peeled bananas, miso, eggs, sugar and milk to a tall mixing jug. Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture until smooth.
Carefully pour the banana miso custard into the pie base and carefully return to the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the custard is set but still has a slight wobble in the centre.
Leave to cool completely before serving with some vanilla ice cream and/or barely sweetened whipped cream on the side.