Monday, 25 May 2015

Banoffee Pie (Wheat Free)

There are a few things in this life that are as good as a classic dessert, like this one: banoffee pie!

Banoffee Pie (originally spelled 'banoffi') was invented by Nigel Mackenzie and Ian Dowding in the early 70s in their resaturant The Hungry Monk, East Sussex, England. Originally it was made with a pastry shell, but over the years a cheesecake style biscuit base has become more popular.

I have never actually, despite it being a classic, made a banoffee pie. I've always though of using it as an element of a dessert mashup, like a banoffee cheesecake or banoffee millionaire's shortbread, but have never got around to making an actual straight-up pie. I was asked to make one for my companion's sister's birthday, and it served as a great excuse to give it a go.

The first one I made was an alright first attempt, but the biscuit base was too thin, and the toffee too chewy; also, the bananas sweated under the warm toffee (I had put them on the bottom) and make the dessert awfully runny. It tasted okay, but the presentation lost it a good few marks in my eyes.

I thought I'd make another one, because Pentecost Sunday was just around the corner, and it is also one of my eldest brother's favourite desserts. Take two was infinitely more successful, with creamier toffee and a thicker biscuit.

I used bought biscuits (a mixture of digestives and gingernuts), and you could too, but if you can't get wheat free biscuits, this recipe includes a recipe for making biscuits from scratch for the base.

☑ Soya (check for soya lecithin)
☑ Yeast
☑ Wheat
☑ Nuts
☑ Eggs

☒ Dairy
☒ Gluten
☒ Refined sugar products

Makes one 8 inch (20 centimetre) round pie:

For the base:
  • 3½ ounces (100 grammes) light brown sugar
  • 3½ ounces (100 grammes) butter, at room temperature
  • 5 ounces (140 grammes) 
  • 2 ounces (55 grammes) rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon (3 millilitres) ground cinnamon
Alternatively, you could use 14 ounces (400 grammes) of shop bought biscuits: digestives and gingernuts work best
  • 5½ ounces (150 grammes) butter, at room temperature, to mix with the crushed biscuits

For the toffee layer:
  • 7 ounces (200 grammes) evaporated milk
  • 7 ounces (200 grammes) soft light brown sugar
  • 2½ ounces (60 grammes) butter
  • 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
  • Pinch of salt

For the topping:
  • 4 small bananas, not too ripe but not green
  • 6 fluid ounces (180 millilitres) whipping cream
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon (5 millilitres) vanilla essence
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon (15 millilitres) icing sugar
  • Cocoa powder, grated or shaved chocolate, for decoration


First, prepare the biscuit crumbs for the base,
  • If you have a blender, pulse the oats and flour together until it has become evenly blended. If you don't, this part isn't necessary.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together with your hands, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients, until you have a crumbly mixture. Spread the crumbles and clusters onto a dry baking tray and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, tossing the mixture three times throughout baking.
  • Once cooked, allow to cool on the tray completely. 

Then, prepare the biscuit base,
  • Put into a plastic bag and smash into crumbs, as you would with normal biscuits. You could also put the crumbs into a blender to make very fine crumbs for the base.
  • Put the crumbs into a bowl and add the room temperature butter. Mash the butter into the crumbs by hand. I prefer doing it this way instead of using melted butter because the resulting mixture is more mouldable, like play dough.
  • Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a round sandwich tin, lined with clingfilm. Chill for about 30 minutes.
While the biscuit base is chilling, prepare the toffee,
  • Mix all the ingredients, except for the vanilla essence, in a medium saucepan. Cook gently over a low heat until the butter and sugar have melted together fully, then bring to the boil. Boil gently for about 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens into a creamy saucy consistency, and darkens slightly.
  • Allow to cool in the pan to room temperature, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming.
Now, assemble the masterpiece!
  • Pour the toffee into the biscuit shell, and spread out evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon.
  • Thinly slice the bananas into discs and place them on top of the toffee to fill the rest of biscuit base. Cut and layer one banana at a time, because you may not need all four.
  • Whip the cream (with the icing sugar and vanilla essence, if using) to soft peaks and spread on top the bananas, swirling in a decorative way. Alternately, you can put the cream into a piping bag and pipe it on top of the pie to decorate.
  • Decorate with a dusting of cocoa, or chocolate, either by grating or shaving curls onto the cream.

THIS TIME IN 2014: No blog due to family difficulties

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