If you haven’t had Banoffi Pie you are missing out!
This pie was all the rage in Ireland and England a few years ago (around the same time as the Crème Brûlée craze and preceding the Tiramisu and Cupcake trend). It was on every dessert menu in the country, similar to how french pastries have fallen back into vogue these days, especially the delicately scented macaron which comes in an array of colors that make rainbows look sad and dun! (I wrote about them HERE if you are curious, and HERE!).
I will agree wholeheartedly that the name of this cake is a bit corny, like the words “spork” (for fork and spoon), and skort (a word I find utterly ridiculous – combines shorts and skirt, oh, and have you heard of “jeggings”? – too idiotic to explain ) and even Brangelina! As a general rule the latest of these stuck-together words (called portmanteau if you are interested, although you probably already knew that!) are pretty silly. I need to go on a bit here: the word Traduken in the culinary world for example – nothing could be sillier. It is officially a chicken inserted into a duck which is then inserted into a turkey and cooked! It might be delicious and one day I might try making one, but only after I can get over the word itself. Some of these words are quite inventive and it is a fun word game to play, but the one that is near and dear to me is when my mother asked if I could make her a “pignet” ring? Really? “Yes”, she said, “it is a signet ring for your pinky finger” We laughed so much about this and it became a real word to us! It is such a trendy thing to do nowadays. I think the word for portmanteau in the food world is “fusion” Okay, I’m done!
So at this point you can guess the ingredients of this pie…BANana and tOFFI (EE)! It is a marvellous combination of sweet stuff and I would love you to give it a try. The toffee can of course be purchased in a pinch but the most fun you can have and an excellent magic trick to show your children is to make it by boiling a can or two of sweetened condensed milk until it turns into toffee right before your eyes. (instructions are in the recipe below).
There are all sorts of ways you can make this your own. I would use whatever sweet pastry crust that works for you (mine is below and is as easy…well you know). I have had it with slivered almonds on top but I made it here with whole almonds, or you can omit the nuts altogether for that matter. Also there is an option to drizzle the bananas with a concentrated instant coffee (it’s simply a mixture of instant coffee, water and sugar. It is called camp coffee, a throw-back from world war II when things were in short supply and us humans became ingenious at figuring out how our food could still feel “the same”). Well you could do that or sometimes I just add some vanilla extract to my whipping cream and that is delicious too (also small kids seem to like this subtle taste better). The last thing to say is that this whole dessert could be bought and assembled, from the pastry crust to whipped cream from a can, although the idea of cream from a can still repulses me so I would probably end up having to pull out my hand whisk! But if that is all it took to get something as decadent as this onto the table in a hurry I would be willing to do it.
A little of this goes a long way so just one pie can feed a crowd. It is a long weekend in these here United States so why not plan to make this one night to give the weekend a more festive air.
You will need:
for the pastry:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz unsalted butter (1 stick, 8 tbs)
1 large egg
pinch of salt
Equipment: I used an 11″ fluted pie pan with a removable bottom. this is very handy when dealing with fussy toppings as you can remove the pie without any bother.
For the filling:
1 cup blanched whole almonds
2 cans sweetened condensed milk (14oz each) or a jar of ready-made toffee
5 to 6 ripe bananas (faintly spotty ones)
1 tbs Camp Coffee (mix 1 tbs instant coffee with 1 tsp fine sugar and 2 tbs water) – optional.
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 pastry pie crust (recipe below or ready-made)
How to make toffee magically:
This recipe can be used here or the cooked cans can be popped into the pantry (will keep for two months unopened) or the freezer (will keep for 6 months) to be whipped out anytime. There are all sorts of uses for this so boil up as many cans as you like!
Put at least two can of Sweetened Condensed Milk into a big pot and add water until it comes up to the top of the cans. Place on stove top on high and allow to boil. Turn the heat down until the water comes to a constant “tremble” and boil for 4 hours, making sure to keep the water topped up as it boils off. Remove from water, let cans cool before opening and using.
Method for crust:
1 – Mix the flour, ground nuts and sugar in a bowl with a whisk.
Mix dry ingredients for pastry crust
2 – Add the butter and mix it into the flour mixture using your fingertips. Add the egg and a pinch of salt and mix it together gently with a wooden spoon or your hands until it forms a ball.
Add butter, then egg
3 – Flatten into a thick disk and wrap it in cling film or some sort of plastic and place it in the fridge for about 20 or 30 minutes (you will be getting on with the rest of the recipe)
Flatten into a disc and refrigerate in plastic
Preheat the oven to 350*
4 – Run the whole almonds until water until they are wet. place them on a tea towel and pat dry. Place them in a bowl with the confectioners (icing) sugar and stir until the nuts are coated in sugar. Spread out on a baking sheet and place in the oven until they are crispy looking. This will take anywhere from 12 to 18 or so minutes. Turn the almonds every five minutes so they cook with an even crispy-ness. Remove from the oven and let them cool.
Turn the oven up to 450*
5 – Take the pastry crust from the fridge and using a rolling-pin on wax paper roll the pastry out into a large disk (an 11 or 12 inch circle) and line your tart pan, trimming off the excess edges. Prick holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork and then place some wax paper or tin foil over the sides and bottom. Weigh the pastry down with dry beans (or pastry weights if you have them) and bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove the beans and the foil and place back into the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes. Remove and set aside until ready to fill.
6 – While the pastry crust is cooling slice the bananas, whip the cream,(whip with or without vanilla extract), make camp coffee (if using), open cans of toffee.