Paul Dauch Jr. has been eating banana split pie for more than 40 years - maybe 20 years shy of the number of years his father, Paul Dauch Sr., has been eating it. When Paul was growing up in the 1960s outside of Clyde, though, it was called "Banana Split Cake."
|Paul Dauch with his banana split pie. (Photos: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Dauch was one of nine kids, he explained. That meant the dimensions of the dessert had to be a little bit different to make sure everyone got their share.
"My mom put it in a nine-by-thirteen cake pan, and it would have seemed more like cake," Dauch said.
It was Dauch's father's favorite dessert, and one of Dauch's, which made it one of the first desserts he wanted to try when he began cooking as a teenager.
The dessert was popular, and better, it didn't require baking.
The success of the dessert was one recipe that became a staple in young Dauch's growing repertoire: he eventually became a professional chef, and now is the food service manager at the Wood County Committee on Aging.
Growing up within a large farm family, food was important to Dauch. Not just because it took a lot of food to keep a big family going, but because you had to be quick and agile to get enough in such a large family. Later, Dauch began cooking on his own, coming up with his own recipes, trying and tweaking some of his mother's, teaching himself to cook. He has not had formal training, but is acclaimed for his ability wherever he goes.
But as Dauch's skills in the kitchen became more sophisticated, and those for whom he cooked smaller in number, the cake became a pie, and the flavor was tweaked slightly.
Dauch added Maraschino cherries and chocolate shavings to the top, making it a decadent and decorative dessert that resembled its namesake, the banana split.
"I think it's my favorite pie," said Melody Veltri, a friend of Dauch's from Findlay. "It's just so fresh and bright."
The pie starts with a graham cracker crust, preferably homemade, followed by a custard filling, also homemade. Next comes crushed pineapple and banana, homemade whipped topping, peanuts, chocolate and cherries.
"It's sort of a custardy banana spit rather than ice cream," Dauch said. "I thought about doing chocolate syrup, but thought it might be overpowering."
It is served cold, making it an ideal treat for a scorching summer's day.
Banana Split Pie is one of those desserts with an ensemble of flavors that work together to create something fairly magnificent; you do not taste just the custard, or just the pineapple. Rather, it is a soft blend of all the flavors into a light, but delightfully sweet, confection.
Although shortcuts could be made with this pie, Dauch advises that cooks take time to make the whipped topping themselves, along with the custard and graham cracker crust.
"It makes a big difference to the flavor," he said.
Dauch cooks evening dinner for about 40 people each night, Tuesday through Thursday at the Wood County Senior Center in Bowling Green, but says he has not yet made his banana split pie.
"I stick with what I know they like," he said, "usually apple pie, cherry pie; banana cream pie."
His puddings are also a hit - his own bread pudding recipe, and a gingerbread pudding for the holidays.
At the senior center, he once received a standing ovation for his bread pudding recipe, he said.
The banana split pie that is still a hit in his Clyde family and remains a favorite among his friends, may yet emerge at the senior center.
"When they see this, I may have to make it for them," Dauch said.
Paul Dauch's Banana Split Pie
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp sugar
3/4 c. softened margarine (divided)
1/2 Tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
8 oz. can of crushed pineapple (drained)
2 large bananas
8 oz. whipped cream or whipped topping (see Dauch's recipe below)
1/4 c. Marashino cherries (cut in half)
In a small saucepan, over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup of margarine. Meanwhile, mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a separate bowl. Add melted margarine and mix well. Press mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan and set aside.
Mix 1/2 cup of softened margarine, vanilla, powdered sugar and egg with an electric mixture on high speed for 15 minutes.
Spoon mixture over graham cracker crust and smooth with a rubber spatula.
Spread pineapple evenly over filling.
Peel and slice bananas thinly. Place slices evenly over pineapple.
Spread whipped topping evenly over the entire pie.
Refrigerate at least six hours before serving.
Immediately before serving:
Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the pie. Using a peeler, shave the frozen Hershey's bar over the pie until the desired amount of chocolate is achieved. Finish by placing the maraschino halves evenly over the pie.
Dauch's Whipped Cream:
2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
2 Tsp. vanilla.