They say first loves die hard, and I think that truth applies to desserts, too. My husband grew up eating banana pudding in his grandmother’s kitchen. The grandkids would sneak into the kitchen to stake a claim on one of the cooling bowls of pudding, always opting for the ones with extra vanilla wafers. Now, seven years into our marriage, I can tell that the majority of treats he nibbles on in our own home undergo a mental comparison with those warm banana puddings. Will this dessert be the instant classic he’ll request for years to come? Alas, I’m rarely even close. Those bites taken during our formative years tend to reserve a special spot in our hearts (and palates), and banana pudding will always be my husband’s favorite.
This banana cream pie cake is a nod to his nana’s dessert. A sheet of fluffy white cake is topped with homemade vanilla pudding, sliced bananas and whipped cream. The options for simplifying here are endless. You can use boxed yellow or white cake in place of the homemade, stove top pudding in place of the custard, or whipped topping instead of freshly whipped cream. Prepare this cake in a way that works for you, and don’t stress over making it all from scratch if that’s not your thing. I like to add extra bananas or a drizzle of salted caramel sauce to make this cake even more decadent, but all of the elements are so delicious on their own, that they require no extra bells or whistles.
Some desserts just taste like home. Maybe this banana cream pie cake will be a new favorite in your house this summer.
Banana Cream Pie Cake
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 4 large (140 gm) egg whites, 2 yolks reserved for pastry cream
- 4 tablespoons (55 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (100 gm) vegetable oil
- 1-1/3 cup (265 gm) sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-3/4 cup (245 gm) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup (150 gm) milk
For the pastry cream (adapted from King Arthur Flour):
- 1-1/2 cups (340 gm) whole milk
- ¼ cup (50 gm) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 large (30 gm) egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
To prepare the cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with baking spray.
- In the clean bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the four egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Scoop out of the bowl and set aside while you prepare the rest of the cake.
- Using the paddle attachment in the bowl of the same stand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the oil and sugar and cream until light and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. In a separate smaller bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add half of these dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir on low to combine. Add the milk, stirring to combine, followed by the remaining dry ingredients. Stir on low until well incorporated.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the egg whites until well incorporated, being careful to not overmix. Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Take care to not overbake, as the cake will be dry.
- When done, remove from oven to cool all the way while you prep your pastry cream.
To prepare the pastry cream:
- In a medium saucepan, combine 1-1/4 cups of milk, the sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly to bring to a simmer and dissolve the sugar. In the meantime, in a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ¼ cup milk with the cornstarch, flour and egg yolks. Whisk to combine and set aside while waiting for the milk and sugar mixture to simmer. Once the milk and sugar mixture is barely bubbling, remove from heat and slowly pour it in a small and steady stream into the cornstarch mixture, whisking vigorously. Continue streaming in while whisking until all the hot milk has been incorporated, and then return the whole lot of it back into the saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until barely bubbling and the mixture has thickened to a mayonnaise consistency. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla until smooth. Immediately move to assemble the cake.
To assemble the cake:
- Space out a single layer of thin banana slices on the cooled cake. Pour the hot pastry cream on top of the bananas and use a spatula to spread it all over the top evenly. Try to keep it on top of the cake instead of falling off the sides. Place a single sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream and place in the fridge to cool, about 30 minutes.
- Once cool, pour the heavy whipping cream into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on medium speed until slightly thickened and frothy. Add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff peaks form. Carefully remove the plastic wrap from the top of the pastry cream and spread the whipped cream over the top of the entire cake. Serve immediately with additional slices of banana or a crumble of graham crackers.
- White cakes dry out easily. Be sure to bake only until a toothpick inserted barely comes out clean. If you fear you’ve overcooked it, you can use a toothpick to poke holes over the cake and brush a little milk over top. No one will know!
- The plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream prevents the cream from forming a “skin.” I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer my dessert skinless.
- Use extra bananas, if desired.
- As a shortcut, use a box cake mix.