Pastry for a 1-crust 9-inch pie 12 strawberries 2/3 cup sugar 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 3/4 cup milk 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon butter 2 ripe bananas Whipped cream if desired
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Fit the pastry into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the pastry all over with a fork and bake about 10 minutes, until the edges are light golden, checking occasionally and poking a fork into any large bubbles. Remove from oven and set aside.
Wash and hull the strawberries, then cut any small ones vertically into halves and the larger ones into thirds; set them cut-side down onto paper towels to dry.
In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add a little milk and stir well to produce a smooth paste. Gradually stir in the remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. When the mixture begins to thicken on the bottom of the pan, begin stirring constantly, scraping the entire pan bottom continuously. When it turns slightly translucent and becomes like thick sauce, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes.
Remove the pan from heat and pour approximately 1/2 cupful of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks; immediately stir until the mixture is well combined.
Pour the tempered egg yolks back into the pan containing the rest of the hot milk mixture, and stir immediately until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, 5 to 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick enough to mound slightly -- until it looks more like pudding than sauce.
If it is not cooked sufficiently at this stage, it will be runny even after it is chilled. If you're not sure, cook it more, not less. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and butter until the butter is melted and all is well mixed.
Slice the bananas thinly into the mixture and stir in all but eight nicely shaped strawberry pieces. Pour into the prepared pie shell and arrange the reserved strawberry pieces in a circle near the center.
Decorate the around the edge with whipped cream if desired.