One of the world’s best loved puddings, banoffee pie combines bananas, cream, and thick caramel sauce (often made using condensed milk). A portmanteau of the words ‘banana’ and ‘toffee’, the dessert’s invention is credited to Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding, owner and chef, respectively, of The Hungry Monk restaurant in the tiny village of Jevington, East Sussex.
Opened by newlyweds Sue and now deceased Nigel Mackenzie in 1968, The Hungry Monk operated for over 40 years before closing in 2012. While developing the restaurant’s dessert menu soon after opening, chef Ian Dowding suggested amending an unreliable American recipe for “Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie”, made by boiling an unopened can of condensed milk for a few hours, embellishing it with fruit to enliven the dish.
After testing mandarin and apple, Nigel Mackenzie suggested trying banana, which was soon put on the menu as ‘Signor Banoffi’s pie’. An instant hit, the dish became extremely popular, with visitors from around the country calling ahead before visiting, to make sure the banoffee pie was on the menu before they travelled to the restaurant near Eastbourne. Soon after its invention, the family also decided to sell a recipe book in 1974, called ‘The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk’, which included a recipe for the Signor Banoffi’s pie and sold more than 100,000 copies.
Today, ‘banoffee’ is an officially recognised word in the Oxford English Dictionary, used to describe any food or product that tastes of smells of both banana and toffee, and the banoffee pie’s fame has been spread even further by Nestlé, with its cartons of condensed milk labelled with a recipe printed on the side.
A loving take on the original, this banoffee pie recipe has a buttery biscuit base spiked with toasted pecans (which can optionally be removed). It’s also decorated with optional pecans as well as a small pinch of grated chocolate for an extra touch of decadence.
- 25cm pie tin/tart tin/cake tin
- Food processor (optional)
- Piping bag and nozzle (optional)
- 200 g digestive biscuits
- 150 g pecans plus extra for decorating (optional)
- 4 ripe bananas
- 350 ml double cream
- 1 397 g tin condensed milk
- 225 g butter 100g for the caramel, 125g for biscuit base
- 100 g light brown sugar
- 5 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Sea salt
- Dark or milk chocolate for decoration optional
- To line the cake tin, overlap two layers of cling film, one horizontal and one vertical. If you’re not using a spring form pan, take two strips of grease proof paper long enough to overhang the tin and lay in a cross underneath the cling film, this creates handles to pull the pie out.
- Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Lay your pecans on a flat baking tray and toast for 5-10 minutes, until they smell toasty and are a shade darker. Turn every few minutes, don’t walk away as they can burn quickly.
- Melt 125g of butter in a saucepan and set aside. In a food processor add the pecans, a pinch of table/kosher salt and crumble in the digestives. Process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. With the processor running, pour in the melted butter until both are combined. The crumbs should hold together when pinched. (If you don’t have a food processor, this process can be done by hand, but will take much longer).
- Pour the biscuit crumbs into your prepared tin. Using a spoon, push the crumbs into an even layer on the base and push up the sides of the tin. Try to make the sides and corners slightly thicker than the base, this will help hold the pie together. Once evenly distributed, use the bottom of a cup measure or flat glass to firmly pack the crumbs into an even layer. Place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
- While the base is chilling make the caramel. In a non-stick saucepan, melt the remaining 100g of butter with the brown sugar. Add the condensed milk and boil for 3-4 minutes until thickened. Allow to cool for 10 minutes (the rest of the time the base is chilling).
- Pour the caramel over the base and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt, chill for an additional hour.
- Slice the bananas into 1cm rings. Arrange on top of the caramel in a circular pattern overlapping their edges.
- In a large bowl, combine the vanilla, cream and icing sugar. Whip to your desired stiffness. If the cream is being piped on top, I would suggest stiffer, if not, soft peaks works better. Adding powdered sugar to cream adds starch and helps to stabilise the cream, meaning it will stay fresh for longer.
- Mound the cream on top of the bananas and spread evenly, or if piping, pipe as desired. (Bananas can oxidise after a while, if you’re not serving this immediately after chilling, make sure the bananas are entirely covered by the cream to prevent this.)
- Decorate with more pecans and chocolate shavings. To create chocolate shavings, run a sharp knife along the flat side of a chocolate bar. Alternately, use a vegetable peeler.
- Chill the pie for an hour before serving.
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