The last time that I had banoffee pie was in Wellington. Alastair and I had one way tickets to the other side of the world, and didn't know when we would be back. Just before we left, Alastair, Pat and I went out to a restaurant and ate ourselves silly. We were greedy little piglets and ordered dessert too, which was banoffee pie. Even though we were stuffed, we ate every last crumb and enjoyed it immensely. A few days later, Alastair and I got on a plane, and we didn't see my Bro again for a year.
Four and a half years have gone by since that banoffee pie and life has changed a lot. Alastair and I travelled, moved countries, settled down, got married and imported my brother into Australia. Life may have changed but we still talk about that night in Welly and reminisce about that pie.
Banoffee pie was apparently invented in 1972 by the Hungry Monk restaurant in East Sussex, UK. It's a dessert with a pastry base, covered with layers of dulce de leche, bananas and cream. Once you've prepared the base and the dulce de leche, assembling the pie is very easy.
I've been wanting to make a banoffee pie for ages, but with the high banana prices over the past couple of years it never happened. Until the other weekend where I found an occasion for it - an Out of Africa barbeque! (Basically catching up with friends after our return.) The shortcrust pastry recipe came from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2 and is extremely easy and has never failed on me yet. I love making desserts using shortcrust pastry because people are always impressed - and yet it's the easiest thing in the world. The rest of the recipe I took from Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Kitchen. I cheated on the dulce de leche due to lack of time (and fear of exploding cans) and bought ready made caramel topping from the supermarket. The canned caramel topping was acceptable, but I have no doubt that boiling my own cans would've been better.
By the way, do try the almonds in Jamie's recipe. They were wonderful on top of the pie, giving a bit of crunch.
Sweet Shortcrust pastry
From Donna Hay Modern Classics 2
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
3 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
150g (5 oz) cold butter, chopped
2-3 tablespoons iced water
Process the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. While the mother is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough and process until just combined. Knead the dough lightly, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface or between sheets of non-stick baking paper until 2-3mm (1/8 in) thick, or whatever thickness is required, and line the tart tin. (This recipe makes about 350g (12 oz) pastry, which is sufficient to line up to a 26cm (10 in) pie dish or tart tin.)
Preheat the oven to 180 degree C (350 degree F). Place a piece of non-stick baking paper over the pastry and fill with baking weights or uncooked rice or beans. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the pastry is golden.
From Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Kitchen
200g/7oz blanched, whole almonds
280g/10oz icing sugar
2 x 397g/14oz tins of condensed milk, boiled
565ml/1 pint double cream
1 tablespoon Camp coffee
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Preheat the oven to 180 degree C (350 degree F). Give the almonds a rinse in water, drain them a little and mix them quickly with the icing sugar in a bowl until they are really sticky. Place on a baking tray and toast for 15 minutes in the oven until they are golden and crispy, turning them every couple of minutes. Don't let them turn black or they will taste bitter. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Make and bake the pastry (as above), remove from the oven and let it cool.
Spread the toffee as thick as you like across the base of the pastry. Slice the bananas and place on top of the toffee, then whip the cream. Add the Camp coffee - add a little less if you'd like a more subtle coffee flavour - and the vanilla seeds.
Then dollop the cream on top of the bananas, as high and as rough as you like.
Sprinkle the almonds over the top of the banoffe pie and serve immediately.