Banana cream pie is a long-standing Southern favorite. This cool, creamy, refreshing treat is perfect for hot summer days. In fact, it could be those hot summer days that caused banana cream pies to rise to fame in the South. Bananas are a tropical fruit, usually imported from South America. Before late nineteenth century, advancements in refrigeration and food transportation, bananas would only grow in the South. Thus Southern cooks got a head start on perfecting their recipes.
Prepare a graham cracker crust, either by making one or buying one from the super market. The store bought ones are pretty good, but don't forget to defrost yours.
In a medium pot on medium-low heat, mix the milk and 1/4 cup sugar. Cut your vanilla bean open and scrape the insides out into your milk. Through the husk of the bean in there as well. Bring the mix to a simmer.
Meanwhile, sift the leftover three tablespoons of sugar and the cornstarch together in one bowl and whisk the egg and egg yolks into another.
When the milk is simmering, fish out the vanilla bean. Whisk the cornstarch together with the eggs. While continuously whisking, ladle about 1/4 of the hot milk into the egg mix. Once you incorporate this milk, pour the entire egg mix into the pot with the rest of the hot milk and turn the heat to low. You have to keep whisking vigorously to keep the mix from burning or the eggs from curdling.
Once your milk mix is thick like pudding, pour it into a bowl and stir in the butter until it's all melted and incorporated. Put a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of your pudding so that it doesn't form a film layer and put it in the refrigerator.
While you're waiting for your pudding to cool down, pour the heavy cream and crème fraîche in a clean, chilled metal bowl. Whip these ingredients with an electric mixer on high until peaks form.
Get your pudding out of the refrigerator. With a rubber spatula, fold in about 1/2 cup of the whipped cream you just made. Line the bottom of your pie crust with banana slices. Fold the remaining bananas into the pudding, then add the pudding to the pie crust. Smooth over the top of the pudding so it looks nice.
Put the whipped cream in a pastry bag. If you don't have a pastry bag, put the whipped cream into a one gallon plastic bag. Snip off one small corner of the plastic bag and decorate the top of your pie with whipped cream. Put your banana cream pie in the refrigerator and chill it overnight. You can eat your pie as soon as it is cold, but the pie will taste better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to blend.