There is a dessert out there that even a fully paid up member of the ‘Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook’ club can make. If you are capable of topping up a pan of boiling water once an hour and have the skills to peel a banana or three, then you are more than adequately skilled to make a Banoffee Pie AND to then sit back and receive the grateful accolades from your guests.
If you are a member of the Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook club, then it probably won’t interest you to hear that, contrary to popular belief (albeit understandably), Banoffee Pie is not an American delicacy although it is in keeping with traditional American pies that usually comprise of a Graham Cracker Crust (what us Brits call a Digestive Biscuit base) with a rich filling, often chocolate or caramel or coconut, and topped with a swirling cloud of whipped cream.
In fact, compared to the century old Boston Cream Pie, the Banoffee Pie is but a mere whippersnapper. The first mention of such a pie was on a menu at a pub in East Sussex, called the Hungry Monk, in the early 1970s. The etymology of the word is shrouded in confusion. The pub, who still have it on their menu, spell it Banofi but it appears elsewhere with extra Ts, Fs and Es. I can only assume that this is a copyright issue although the basic recipes remain virtually identical.
A good Banoffee Pie should comprise of a biscuit crust, a caramel filling layered with sliced, fresh bananas, topped with the obligatory whipped cream and perhaps some more sliced bananas and grated chocolate for decoration. A shortcrust pastry could be switched for the biscuit crust but everything else must remain the same or else it stops being Banoffee, which in case you hadn’t realised by now is a combination of banana and toffee.
It is a dessert for the most unashamed owner of a sweet tooth: bananas are incredibly sweet anyway, so combining them with caramel is a recipe for making your pancreas quiver in fear.
Anyway, enough historical banter, here then is the recipe:
150g Digestive Biscuits, crushed into crumbs
75g melted butter
400g tin Condensed Milk
2-3 Large Bananas
284ml Carton Double Cream
Make the base. Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the biscuit crumbs. Remove from the heat and stir well, until the crumbs have absorbed the butter. Press into a 20cm Flan Tin (preferably a loose bottom one but I actually used a sandwich tin). Chill in the fridge until the caramel is ready.
Make the caramel: Fill a large pan with water, put the can of condensed milk in and bring to the boil. Turn down to a gently simmer. Simmer for four hours ensuring that the water level NEVER FALLS BELOW THE HEIGHT OF THE CAN.
After four hours, remove the pan from the heat and, using tongs, remove the can from the water. Leave aside to cool for about 15 minutes or so. Open with a tin opener and scrape out the caramel using a spatula onto the biscuit base. Spread evenly and chill in the fridge. You can lick the spatula and you will see that the caramel tastes, to me anyway, like the skin on my mum’s rice pudding. Completely delicious but not too sweet.
Whip the cream in a bowl with about a teaspoon of icing sugar. This won’t particularly sweeten the cream but it will stabilise it, if you have to wait awhile before eating it. Make sure the cream is peaking quite firmly.
Slice the bananas and lay them, in whatever pattern you desire, on the caramel, retaining some for decorating the top.
Slather over the whipped cream, swirling it all over, then decorate with banana slices and grated dark chocolate, if you desire.
Serves four very greedy, sweet-toothed eaters (in other words, a quarter of the pie each!!!).