So yesterday was our wedding anniversary which, I will admit, we don’t have a particularly great track record of celebrating at the best of times but what with expecting an addition to the family any day, clearly there wasn’t going to be any major partying this year. We did manage to go out for a nice lunch and it also acted as a prompt to make a dessert for dinner which we don’t do that often. I had been meaning to make banoffee pie for ages and the fact that we had eaten it as part of our wedding meal made it all the more reason to make it yesterday. It’s a pretty easy pie to make but the combination of a crisp base, caramel, banana and cream is so delicious, it’s not surprising it’s what we went for to end our wedding meal. There were lots of empty plates there, even after two pretty great courses before, and I’m sure this version would go down just as well, as it did last night.
I’m not quite sure when I first had banoffee pie but I remember always thinking it was American as it just seemed like it must be. Then having an American fiance ask what it was when we had it as an option to try for our wedding, later backed up by various guests at the wedding, I found out it wasn’t. Having looked into it a bit more, it seems it was in fact created at a restaurant in the South of England in the 1970s – ‘in the American style’ – and was an instant hit that was then replicated all over and, as they say, the rest is history. It’s funny how a food’s history can so often be quite different from what you might think. If you are one of those who hasn’t come across it yet, then don’t wait any longer – it’s definitely a dessert that most people can’t resist. Even if you are not that much of a sweet tooth, as we aren’t, you will probably find you have a soft spot for this.
As I said, it’s a pretty simple pie and there are only minimal variations on it – some people prefer a graham cracker/biscuit and butter crumb crust, while it has more traditionally been made with a sweet shortcrust pastry base. There are pros and cons to both, in my mind – a graham cracker crust is clearly quicker, but more likely to crumble and also sweeter which, given you are adding in a layer of caramel and bananas can be a bit much. The pastry case holds together well and doesn’t need to be as sweet, but it can go soft quicker if you are not going to eat it all at once. In the end I decided to go with a pastry case, using the base I used for pumpkin pie before, but I have left it up to you to choose which you prefer and/or have time for.
Next is a layer of caramel (the ‘offee’ in the name coming from toffee but it’s more of a caramel really) – this is traditionally made by boiling an unopened can/tin of condensed milk for a couple hours, then letting it cool, as I have described below, but if you are short on time, a bought dulce de leche will work as well. You can also make the caramel in the can/tin a while in advance and keep the tin unopened in the fridge for a good month or so. You might notice the cans often say don’t heat in the can and I have seen sites from condensed milk makers say they don’t recommend this way – that’s because there is a risk of the tins exploding if you don’t have them covered in enough water or open them while still hot. However, if you make sure there is always a layer of water over the can while it simmers and let it cool before you open, you’ll be fine. The resulting flavor and texture are perfect, and so easy to just eat with a spoon.
The next layer is bananas – no debate there, although I like to toss them in a little lemon juice to take the edge off the sweetness and they will keep better if you are not using it all at once. On top of that, whipped cream – originally this had a little bit of coffee flavoring in there but personally I prefer a little vanilla or to leave it plain. Oh and for me it has to be real cream, not the stuff out of a can. Finally, it’s commonly topped with some shavings/gratings of chocolate although I think originally it stayed on the coffee theme and some versions I have seen use caramelized pecans. I have stuck with chocolate, but feel free to vary to your taste. And that’s it! One delicious, slightly rustic-looking but you’ll ignore that as soon as you eat it, pie.
It may not be a pie that wins beauty contests (at least not on a warm day, as I was making it where it was hard to stop the cream collapsing!), but I think I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like it if not love it. It’s a delicious combination and, depending on how you make it, can take only about 15 minutes to put together. Anniversary or not, it was delicious and I look forward to making it again, but in the meantime I’ll be sharing it with Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Effie @ Food Daydreaming and Steffi @ Ginger & Bread. Also sharing with Throwback Thursday and Foodie FriDIY.
- 1 pie case, either graham cracker/biscuit base or sweet shortcrust pastry, approx 9in diam (although you can use smaller and scale slightly, or have thicker toppings)
- 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 2-3 bananas
- a couple squeezes of lemon juice
- 1 cup/240ml heavy/double cream
- ¼-1/2tsp vanilla (optional)
- a little dark chocolate to decorate top
- To make the caramel, peel the label off the can of condensed milk and put on its side in a deep pan.
- Cover with boiling water - you want the can at least about an inch under water at all times, bring to a simmer and leave for 2hours, checking and topping up the water level regularly. Don't let the can peek out of the water as it may explode.
- After 2 hours, drain, carefully remove the can from the pan and leave to cool - it will take a good 2hours or more. Don't try to open the can while still hot - again, it may explode from the pressure.
- If you want to make your own pastry pie case, recipe as follows otherwise skip to next step: - mix 1½ cups/200g all purpose/plain flour with 1 stick/4oz/110g unsalted butter, cold and cut into chunks, and 2tbsp confectioners/icing sugar, in a food processor until like breadcrumbs. While pulsing the mixer, slowly add some cold water until the dough just comes together (around 2-3tbsp). Form dough into a ball, cover in cling film and chill for 30mins before rolling out. Preheat oven to 375F/190C. Roll out dough and line a greased pie dish or tin. Press gently into dish to ensure there are no air bubbles underneath, trim the edges and prick the base a few times with a fork. Bake blind (ie filled with parchment paper and beans/baking weights) for around 10-15min, remove beans and bake 'open' for a further 15-20minutes until lightly brown and firm to touch. Remove and allow to cool.
- Open the cooled can of condensed milk and fill the crumb/pastry base with a layer of the caramel - thickness to your liking but you want a decent layer, using most if not all of the can. Up to this point can be done a little while in advance.
- Slice the bananas in medium-thick round slices, toss with a couple squeezes of lemon juice -only enough to lightly coat, not make them wet - then layer on top of the caramel (you can do thinner slices and put on a couple layers, if you prefer).
- Whip the cream, with the vanilla if using, until it forms soft peaks and then layer it on top of the bananas and smooth the surface (you can make stiffer and pipe it on, if you prefer).
- Top with a few shavings or gratings of dark chocolate and serve, or refrigerate until needed.