Banoffee Pie: Banana Happy Dessert Oozes Portmanteau

Banoffee pie
Banoffee pie! Thanks to BBC Good Food for the image.

There’s a dessert out there. It goes by the name of banoffee pie. This name may scare some of you, but it’s nothing to be terrified about.

This English delight is along the lines of other legends such as arctic roll and trifle.

Yet it goes one better as it contains one of the most fabled of all British ingredients—the digestive biscuit. This is the story… of a weird dessert.

What’s Banoffee Pie?

It’s an dessert that consists of bananas, cream, and a caramel sauce. Its base consists of crumbled biscuits and it often has nuts on its top.

Some chefs also throw in chocolate or coffee into the mix. The crazy damn fools!

Banoffee pie always goes by the playful name of “banoffi”, for a laugh.

But its more traditional spelling is that good old thing called a portmanteau. In that it combines two words—banana and toffee. Nice!

It’s certainly not the most legendary dessert in the UK. That surely has to go to spotted dick. Yes? Or no?

Whatever! We’ll certainly note the Americans have embraced this dessert arguably more than any other in British pudding.

Even The New York Times did a piece on it.

Granted, we agree it has an American kind of feel to it. Gooey and indulgent, like apple pie and bananas foster. But… it ain’t America. No never!

The History of Banoffee Pie

The dessert hails from a restaurant in Jevington of East Sussex. As legend goes, the owner and chef of The Hungry Monk claim to have created it.

That was back in 1971, so the dessert has a solid 50 year history behind it now.

As we mentioned, the recipe has a US feel to proceedings. And that’s because the chef Ian Dowding adapted it from coffee toffee pie.

That restaurant is now sadly closed, but Dowding continues to work as a chef. He established his own restaurant in 1988 called the Quincys. It was in Seaford, East Sussex.

These days he works as a freelance chef who teaches and demonstrates.

As Dowding puts it on his website in The Completely True and Utter Story of Banoffi Pie:

“I don’t talk about it much these days in case I sound like one of those old rock stars who only ever had one hit and insists on telling everybody at every opportunity. But if I’m asked I usually say this, which I happen to believe is true: Nobody ever invents dishes – they evolve. This then is how it happened. It may be a bit mundane but I’d like to put the record straight …

Without that name we would not have been able to trace the rise in popularity of this concoction. It started as feedback from customers who rang to book and to check that it was still on the menu until it got to the point when we couldn’t take it off. Within a couple of years I began to see it on a lot of menus of other restaurants, (chefs always check out menus wherever they are – you can read a lot more than just food from a menu). People we knew coming back from abroad reported seeing it on menus in Australia and America and there were even stories of it being served at No 10 and Buckingham Palace. The word ‘Banoffi’ now has the distinction of being listed in the Oxford English Dictionary.”

Dowding claims he didn’t create the dish at all, merely evolving it from existing dishes. Which is a nice humble attitude to take.

And these days you can find the thing everywhere.

Every supermarket chain in the UK has some variety on it. But it’s also in restaurants all across the world, oozing with bananas and cream.

How to Make Banoffee Pie

Phwoah. There’s something about a geezer in a garish lumberjack shirt that really ticks many boxes for us.

John Kanell may be AMERICAN, but he sure bakes a mean banoffee pie.

225g of digestive biscuits
150g of melted butter
397g can caramel
3 bananas
300ml double cream
1 tablespoon of icing sugar
1 square of dark chocolate

So, yeah, it’s one of the easier desserts you can make.

Crumble the biscuits and then layer all the stuff together. Bake it a bit. Whisk stuff up. Layer it up. And then behold the thing you have created.

A good recipe if you want to entertain your family between bouts of screaming drunkenly at each other, eh?


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