Saturday, January 21, 2012

Banana Cream Pie

In the children's book publishing world, there's this thing called ATOS. It's based on the difficulty of the words and sentences that tell your story. A sentence like this one, with commas setting off a non-essential phrase, is complex, and would incur a high ATOS. A sentence like this one would have a lower ATOS. Ya dig?

Well...I don't. It's prolonging the revision process for the books I've been writing over the past month, and it's got me cringing every time I have to break down a thoughtfully constructed sentence into a slightly less eloquent version that, incidentally, won't discourage our fledgling readers.

Sometimes I'd like to forget about the readers. Sorry kids. You're not my audience of choice.

Luckily, I've managed to slip quietly into the food writing community, where I get to write for adults - using sentences of variable length AND the words of my choosing. Like in here. Only with those stories, I'm guaranteed an audience that exceeds ten people.

But hold on. I like the people who read this blog (shout out to Syracuse!). And I like that I don't have to pitch an idea before I write it, and I don't have to avoid intro clauses or keep the first person to a minimum (on the contrary...). In this minuscule plot of net-estate, I'm the writer, the editor, the baker.

And that's why, through all the excitement of late, I've had this post in the back of my mind. I've waited patiently for the day when I'd feel free enough (in my head, that is) to dedicate the afternoon to a dessert I've been eyeing for some time. It took a while, but last weekend, I reclaimed the baker in me. I tied up an apron and got comfortable in the kitchen. Heavy cream, cinnamon, bananas, and me.

This pie happens in three parts. The crust is easy, chocolate cookies pulverized, bound by butter, and baked crunchy. The pastry cream is an adventure: sugar and eggs, seasoned with cinnamon, tempered by hot milk, strained, flavored, cooled. The recipe I was following used a cinnamon pastry cream with sliced bananas mixed in. But I don't believe you can call it a banana cream pie if the only bananas involved are in a sliced state, suspended in some cinnamon cream. No, no. It's BANANA cream, people. So I, trailblazer that I am, cut the cinnamon in half and mashed up two bananas to fold into the pastry cream. Next time, I'll mash a third.

These were the only chocolate cookies I could find. Bye, little bear friends.

This simple ganache adds an extra layer of bittersweet chocolate, and it seals the crust from getting soggy. For a while, at least.

Finally, a word on whipping your own cream. It leaves you with a soft vanilla cloud that just might draw attention, ever so briefly, from the denser mass below it. It also might be the simplest way to feel like a for real baker. Long-time, in the making, or recently reclaimed.

No comments:

Post a Comment