Three Bites: Banana Cream Pie

Craig OuthierJune 25, 2020
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Photography by Angelina Aragon
Photography by Angelina Aragon

Outsource your Fourth of July pie needs with these banana cream standouts from Valley bakers.

Tracy Dempsey Originals

Apple pie is indisputably American, but banana cream pie is no slouch in the patriotic-dessert department, either – even sans crust. Presented in a folksy, picnic-perfect Mason jar, Valley baker Tracy Dempsey’s version of the Sunday supper favorite ($6, pictured) involves a medley of salted caramel, homemade vanilla wafers, ripe banana and vanilla pudding, layered in exactly that order. “Then we layer it again that way, and top it with whipped cream,” Dempsey says. The result is a salty-sweet spoonful of pure endorphin delight that will make your eyeballs roll uncontrollably skyward. And the crust? Eh, it always struck us as vaguely communist anyway.

Cotton & Copper

Though the origins of the crème pie, like most things cream-based, trace to France, it was in the United States that the near-perfect union of bananas and creamy vanilla pudding was first consecrated – a true American love story. And one that Cotton & Copper chef Tamara Stanger reveres. “Usually, I do really weird stuff with my pies, but with this one, I’m a purist.” She starts with a homemade crust (“just flour, salt, sugar and butter”) layered twice with bananas and a simple vanilla pudding (“egg yolks, butter, sugar and fresh vanilla bean”). Stanger then chills the pie ($8 per slice) to set and finishes it with fresh whipped cream. “It’s really key to pick your bananas well. Firm, not overly ripe. Because the whole recipe is focused on the flavor of the bananas.”

Pie Snob

Two Valley locations, 602-956-7662,
In addition to various mud pies and tantalizingly named unknowns like the lemon chess pie, baker-owner Traci Wilbur’s astounding 76-item pie menu includes the obligatory banana cream, done on a down-home graham cracker crust. Wilbur folds firm, fresh bananas into a custard-like vanilla pudding, slathers on gobs of whipped cream, and finishes the pie ($26) with a small tripod of crunchy-sweet banana chips. It’s not typically on the daily menu, so Snob – now with a North Central Phoenix oupost to go with its original location in Arcadia Lite – asks for a 48-hour pre-order window. “And we can do it with a different crust, if you like,” a pie rep says.


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