Classic French Banana Cream Pie
This nearly forgotten recipe comes to us from the beloved Ships Diner in Los Angeles that closed in 1995. The whipped cream filling doesn't require any cooking—no custard here—while some slices of banana and toasted almond add texture and flavor. A fast, easy-to-make pie from a bygone era that deserves a comeback. Get the recipe for Classic French Banana Cream Pie ». Wes Frazer

Pie is patient. Pie is kind. Pie is humble. (See: humble pie.) Pie should not cause anxiety, let alone pie anxiety. Yet time and again we know it does. The dough is finnicky; rolling it even and neat takes practice; fillings break or sog up your crust or fail to capture the fresh essence of the fruit or custard they’re based on.

The conspiracy-theoretical among you may consider that august food publications like this one deliberately make pie appear as difficult as possible, so we can more easily sell you on our One Neat Trick to zap all your troubles away. There’s truth to this. Which is why this pie recipe, which we do feel comfortable calling The Easiest Pie You’ll Ever Make, doesn’t rely on tricks—just old-fashioned simplicity. It’s a vintage recipe with a basic but forgiving crust and, most importantly, a filling that requires a mere five ingredients and no actual cooking. Once you’ve baked your crust, you’ve basically done all the work.

The author, Valerie Gordon, owner of Valerie Confections in Los Angeles. Wes Frazer

This banana cream pie unearthed by dessert detective Valerie Gordon is a cream pie in the truest sense: sweetened heavy cream whipped until billowy, flavored with just vanilla and salt. Sliced bananas give it heft and flavor without whopping you over the head with banana-ness, while a dusting of slivered almonds add a pleasant crunch to contrast all the soft cream.

That’s really all there is to it: whipped cream, bananas, some almonds. Substitute ripe berries for the bananas if you like, or sliced peaches, or chunks of mango. The cream takes it all, a neutral but luxurious canvas for fruit that you can whip together any night of the week.

Of course the trickiest part of any pie is the crust, and there’s really no shortcut other than some basic practice and mastering the art of blind-baking. But the shortening in this recipe makes for a forgiving, pliable dough that resists overworking while coming together more easily than an all-butter crust. And if you use a store bought one to make life a little easier? No one will care when you serve them a slice.

Get the recipe for Classic French Banana Cream Pie »