Coffee, Toffee, Banoffee Pie – Vol. 1

Banoffi or banoffee? The debate rages, and the inventors of this world-famous dessert, the Hungry Monk Cafe, arguably should get the last word – even though they would appear to be in the wrong, since the name stands for “banana and toffee/coffee”. Maybe the “i” is there to make it sound Italian.

Go to the recipe for banoffee pie

Our friend Chef Michelle and her man Phil had suggested we crash test this one at our house, under her supervision. But plans change, and we had to switch the dinner venue to their place at very short notice. That meant whipping up the base and filling at ours, then transporting the components across London and finishing the job at theirs.

The easiest and perhaps most dangerous way to make the basic caramel filling needed for this dessert is to submerge a can or two of condensed milk in a pot of water and boil for hours and hours. There’s always the risk of the cans exploding if you let the water level drop.

And even if you don’t end up blasting scalding caramel all over your kitchen, you have to wait ages for the cans to cool to room temperature and thereby depressurise before you can open them.

Time was running short, so via a quick web search I learned that condensed milk can also be caramelised by double-boiling – without the risk of detonating cans and napalm caramel. I decided to run a side-by-side test. Lenny, meanwhile, set to work with the pastry.

Incidentally, there’s been an interesting foodie discussion over at our friend Lyn’s blog Lex Culinaria about when a chef can truly claim to have invented a dish. Well, we reckon the Hungry Monk can rest their case as far as banoffee is concerned.

So is it possible to transport a delicate short-crust base across London on public transport, without ending up with a flan dish full of crumbs, albeit flaky and melt-in-the-mouthy ones? You’ll have to watch the forthcoming Vol. 2 to see how it all turns out!

– Waz

Banoffee pie recipe

Lenny says: Preparing the “toffee” takes a loooong time (up to five hours)! There are two methods, which I will explain below, but the boil-the-tin method (which can be dangerous) allows you to prepare extra and keep for ages. So if you think you’ll be making this again, I’d use this method to prepare your toffee.

2 cans condensed milk
225g flour
½ tsp salt
50g butter, cubed
50g lard, cubed
Extra butter for greasing
Water
375ml cream
1 dessertspoon caster sugar
½ tsp instant coffee
1 tsp finely ground fresh coffee (or use instant)
4-5 ripe bananas (not overripe)

Preparing the toffee:

The “double boil” method: Empty two cans of condensed milk into a heatproof bowl and put it over a pan of boiling water for about 2–2 ½ hours until it has gone dark and thick. Don’t just leave it on the hob; continually check the water level and top up when necessary. Whisk the mixture with beaters to take out any lumps. Watch the video for details

The “boil-the-tin” method: Be careful – this could prove dangerous, we have heard of instances of the tin exploding (though rare, and usually when someone lets the pot boil dry). Put as many cans of condensed milk as you think you’ll use in the upcoming months into a big pot and cover them completely with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer, keeping the tins covered with water, for 5 hours. Turn off the heat. Let them cool enough so you can handle them before opening.

Pastry:

Preheat the oven to 210C/410F. Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl and use your fingers to rub the butter and lard into the dry ingredients until you get a breadcrumb-like consistency.

Add about 1 teaspoon of water at a time, mixing it in with a knife, until the mixture comes together in a ball. Don’t overwork it at this stage. Cover the ball with cling wrap and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes until it firms up.

Butter a flan tin, then roll out the pastry until it’s big enough to fill the tin and reach up the sides. Lay the pastry over the flan tin and press it gently into the corners. Prick the base all over with a fork. Don’t trim it yet: the overhanging bits will stop it from shrinking. Put it on a tray, then into the oven for 10-15 minutes until crispy and just beginning to brown on the edges. Remove it from the oven and let it cool before you trim off the overhanging excess carefully with a sharp knife.

When the base has cooled, whip the cream with the sugar and the ½ teaspoon of instant coffee until you get soft peaks. Spread the cooled toffee mixture into the base – it will be really thick now it has cooled.

Peel the bananas and slice in half lengthways, then lie the halves around the edge of the toffee mixture, working your way into the middle. You may need to break some bananas up a bit so you can make the pieces fit together like a puzzle. See the video.

Spoon the cream mixture on top of the bananas and sprinkle with a bit of freshly ground coffee or some more instant.

Slice and serve as it is. It goes really well with coffee.

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13 Responses to “Coffee, Toffee, Banoffee Pie – Vol. 1”


  • heheh…good one! I know Nestle sells a caramel filling too and dats basically wat they do.. looking forward to next episode!

  • LOVED it. I happen to particularly like making pastries.

  • I’m no expert, but I remember being told that the colder you can keep the oils in a pastry (ie. the butter and lard), the better. That’s why you chuck it in the fridge for 30 minutes, and also use chilled water – you want to avoid the butter or lard melting at all costs (goes through some molecular change after melting and resetting that affects the flakiness of the pastry).

    I also tend to trim the pastry before putting in the oven, and blind baking it to stop it fluffing up – saves putting holes in it with a fork.

    Can’t wait to see the end of this – sounds fantastic. Man I love sweetened condensed milk. *drool*.

  • Just sneaked (snuck??) a peek at the linked recipe – looks just like my current favourite dessert to eat out – banana caramel cream pie at The Provincial in Brunswick St, Fitzroy (Melbourne, Australia). Yummo. I’m going to have to make this to see what the coffee’s like in the mix.

    Bugger the cholesterol!

  • The best episode yet! Can’t wait for part two!!!!!!

  • i’m a vegeterian, so i was wondering if there is any good way to substitute lard in pie crust and still get a good end product?

  • Hiya,

    This was something we actually did give passing thought to when making the crust.

    Apparently there is such a thing as “vegetarian lard”. Have you thought about that, or looked for it?

    Hmm, I wonder whether margarine could be used.

    – Waz

  • For you vegitarians “The New Joy of Cooking” lists most of their pastry recipes with half butter and half vegetable shortening as the fat.

    About the melting of the fat, I prefer to use a pastry blender to make pastry, but haven’t found much difference when I make the same recipe with my hands instead. The crust appears to shrink more, but doesn’t loose any flakiness.

  • I use margerine and butter when making pie crust, works good for me… Get cooking, you dedicated vegetarians!

    As to the making of the toffee, I usually boil the cans in a pressure pot (dont know if thats what it’s called in english… basically a pod you close almost hremetically, allowing water to boil up to much higher temperatures) and it takes only 2/3 hours.

    I only tried storing the canned toffee once; when I opened it about a moth later, It was unusable since it was very hard (must have opened a small hole that let moisture out, who knows?).

    Anyways, nice video, makes me curious about the banana/coffee flavour, something Ive never heard of here in portugal.

  • where is the recipe for banoffee pie?

  • you can get the original banoffee pie recipe on the hungry monk website, here’s the link…

    http://www.hungrymonk.co.uk/pages/banoffi.htm

  • Yes kat, that’s right. It’s why we put a link to it in the first paragraph of the original blog post (see above) :-)

    Thanks for mentioning it though.

  • there is a shortcut to boiling the tins of condesned milk – nestle makes a ready done caramel in a tin – its lush and makes it even easier to make yummy banoffee!

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