Well, good morning. I’ve been away again for too long. I have recipes out the wazoo and it’s time to finally share one with you. I received a wonderful cookbook from my in-laws that had a pie recipe I’d been wanting to try for a few months. With my parents coming for dinner, I decided to give the pie a whirl. Full disclosure: I’m more reminiscent of a toddler playing with Play-doh than a womanly baker when it comes to making and rolling out pie crusts. That’s just how it is. Indeed pie-making is an art I’m far, so very far, from mastering.
My mother, on the other hand, makes the most delectable pie crusts. Flaky and buttery, tender and mild. Okay, I’ve gone a bit too far, but if you saw the crust I made for this pie you’d outright giggle! Lets just say I overworked the dough. So much so that the crust elevated from the pie plate while baking in the oven and stood firmly on it’s own, edged away from the sides of the pie dish. I’d never seen that before and well, that’s because it shouldn’t happen.
During dessert, as we oohed and aah-ed between forkfuls (because don’t get me wrong, even with a possessed crust, this pie was still very much spot-on and indeed it lived up to it’s hype; I had heard about the infamous banofee pie), I studied the bizarre crust and asked my mother if overworking a dough can cause it to go wild and stand up on its own. She confirmed my theory, almost too immediately, that it seemed as if she’d known the error of my ways since she first saw the odd pie, but was too kind to ask if I’d had any difficulty. Bless her heart. So it’s practice, practice, practice for me. I’ll get it some day. Even if it’s Archangel Michael, teaching me how to roll.
And here we see the finished pie. Dressed and whipped and ready for show. Pretty, right? I messaged Graham a picture of the crust, just out of the oven, titled “rustic crust.” And next messaged him, “rustic=sloppy.” He said it was pretty, and I told him it was the best I could muster. And in the end, it did for us all just fine. Just fine indeed.
This pie is very reminiscent of a lovely, creamy banana cream pie. My favourite pie growing up. My mom’s version, with her perfect crust, to be exact. But somehow this banoffee pie is even creamier, more soothing to the soul, and even more of an “I can’t stop at just one or two slivers” kind of pie. Because it’s like the best banana cream pie, and you made it with your hands and it reminds you of your childhood spent outdoors playing on the swings and in the garden. And you very much feel like the right and only thing to do is eat more of it. It simply does you good.
The wonderful thing about making this pie is that it involves a little science experiment. (And who doesn’t love a little science in their baking?) For the ooey, gooey caramel filling of this pie you simply boil a can of sweetened condensed milk in a very large pot of water for a good three hours. And walla! You have an instant (well three hours later) can of heavenly (suitable for Archangel Michael) caramel. See it smeared all over my rustic crust below? (And yes, those are my three rolling pins, inherited from three true heavenly bakers.)
After the creamy caramel goes a layer of three or so bananas, perfectly ripe, perfectly (or any which way) assembled and mosaic-ed onto your delectably smothered crust. And next? Get this. You will not be topping your banoffee pie with merely homemade whipped cream. No, you will be adding mascarpone cheese into the mix. That’s right. Heavy cream, mascarpone and a few tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar. Together, they taste divine. The whipped topping has a nice sturdiness to it, and it won’t water down (like fresh whipped cream sometimes does) over the next few days while you continue to sliver away at it. It stands tall and proud and really goes so well with the banana and caramel beneath.
I should say that the can of sweetened condensed milk that turns into caramel will not produce a thick, corn syrupy like caramel that one might be accustomed to topping their just-made sundae with. No, its lighter, not nearly as rich and very, very smooth. So smooth that you could eat it by the spoonful, though I somehow managed to avoid that temptation, and perhaps for some, a suitable meal by its lonesome. I’ll let you decide.
And so our dinner party turned out grand. The pie was a smashing, rustic success, and Graham and I managed to polish it off by the end of the week. If there’s one thing I discovered, however, its that I must work on my crusts. This was the first time that I used my food processor to make the crust (because everyone’s doing it these days) and by golly, it just didn’t work out for me. Next time I think I’ll use my good old-fashioned hands and pastry cutter. I’m sure we’ll do the job just fine.
Recipe by Yvette van Boven from her cookbook, Homemade Winter
Makes 1, 9 1/2-inch pie
For the caramel:
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
For the crust:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
7 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing pie plate
a tablespoon or two of ice water (plus a dash of white vinegar, for extra flaky crusts, according to my mom)
For the filling:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
dark or semi- sweet chocolate, grated or chopped, for dusting whipped topping (optional)
Make the caramel a day in advance (or leave enough time for the caramel to cool completely before using it for filling). To make caramel, place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a deep saucepan and fill the with enough water to cover can completely. Bring water to a boil and continue to boil for three hours. Make sure that during the entire boiling process (all three hours!) that the can remains underwater. It can explode otherwise! So keep adding water as needed, about every 20-30 minutes, depending on how quickly the water evaporates. You can boil a few cans at a time and keep the unused, unopened cans in a refrigerator for several months. Once three hours is up, remove saucepan from heat, and either let the can cool in the pot of water overnight, or take out the can carefully and let cool completely. Your can of sweetened condensed milk has now magically transformed into velvety caramel.
Make the crust. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour and salt mixture. Once coarse crumbs have formed, trickle in your ice water until the dough just sticks together. Don’t overwork the dough! Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 1/2-inch pie plate. On a floured surface, roll dough and line pie plate with dough. Trim off any excess dough (and smear with a bit of melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar for a snack later) and prick dough with tines of a fork all over. Bake crust (and trimmings on a tiny sheet of tinfoil) until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let crust cool completely before filling. Crust can be made a day in advance (along with the caramel).
Fill the pie. Spread the entire can of caramel into your pie crust. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to help smooth. Peel and slice your bananas. Layer the sliced bananas on top of caramel, covering caramel completely.
Make your whipped topping. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone, heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Transfer whipped topping to pie and use an offset spatula to coat pie generously with whipped topping. If adding chocolate, chop semi-sweet chocolate chips into tiny bits and sprinkle over pie, or grate a bit of dark chocolate directly onto pie. Refrigerate pie until ready to serve.
P.S. If you’re curious why the name banoffee pie? Well, it’s simply a combination of banana and toffee. And the pie originated in the UK. Cheers!