Banoffee pie – homemade dulce de leche

Banoffee pie is one of the easiest desserts to make – there’s no real cooking involved, just some butter-melting, some biscuit-smashing, some pre-emptive tin-boiling, some cream-pouring and some banana-slicing. Easy as . . . pie.

No cream in these photographs; I didn’t get that far before the pie was crumbled into bits by enthusiastic lunch guests. (I prefer my banoffee pie with pouring cream, although you’ll read many recipes which call for whipped cream. Follow your own preference.)

The gloriously gloopy toffee stuff in a banoffee pie is dulce de leche, an Argentinian caramelised milk sauce. You can buy it in jars from Merchant Gourmet in most supermarkets, but it’s very easy to make at home. Just cover an unopened tin of condensed (not evaporated) milk with water in a saucepan and boil for an hour and a half, making sure that the water stays topped up. The can won’t come under enough pressure to go pop. When your dulce de leche is finished, it will keep indefinitely in the can; I like to make several cans full at a time and keep some in the cupboard for my emergency pie needs. Use a permanent marker to identify your boiled tins – the paper will have come off them.

Banoffee pie uses a cheesecake base, which is easy to prepare and freezes well. If you make some spares and freeze them, you’ll have a near-instant dessert for the next time you have visitors.

For one pie, you’ll need:

20 digestive biscuits
3 rounded tablespoons butter
1 tin dulce de leche (see above)
5 bananas
Cream for pouring

Line a springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Crush the biscuits into crumbs. This takes a few seconds in the food processor, but if you don’t have one you can put them in a sealed plastic sandwich bag and wallop the bejesus out of them with a rolling pin. Melt the butter and combine with the crumbs until you have a stiff paste. Mould the paste in the bottom of the tin until you have a flan base with shallow sides. Don’t worry about being too tidy; you’ll be covering the base up in a while.Put the cake tin in the fridge for about an hour to harden.

When the pie crust is nice and solid, remove it from the cake tin and spread a whole tin of cooled dulce de leche on the base. Top this with chopped, fresh bananas. Pour over gouts of cream and serve.

16 Replies to “Banoffee pie – homemade dulce de leche”

  1. Dear Squeeze,

    I wondered about the name and found this on wikipedia:
    Its name is a portmanteau constructed from the words “banana” and “toffee”.

    Inventorship of the pie is claimed by Ian Dowding and Nigel Mackenzie of The Hungry Monk pub in Jevington, East Sussex. They claim to have invented the pie in 1972, and the pub’s exterior bears a plaque to that effect. The recipe was never patented, however, and in 1994 a number of supermarkets began selling it as an American pie, leading Dowding and Mackenzie to offer a £10,000 prize to anyone who could disprove their claim. [1]

    There is some discussion over the best spelling for the pie’s name; The Hungry Monk preferring “banoffi” where the logical etymological spelling would be “banoffee”, to correspond with “toffee”. Other variations include “banoffy” and “bannofie”.

  2. My every move driven by the Google algorithm, I simply chose the most common spelling for the thing as the post title. Shameless but effective.

    Banoffee pie, whatever its origins, simply doesn’t have much of a sense of Britishness about it. There’s that New York cheesecake base, and the South American dulce de leche. Bananas aren’t that common in British gardens either. Thank God for mongrel foods – they’re often my very favourites.

  3. It does sound like lots of American pies invented before 1972 or lots of stuff from Down South America Way. I am thinking of a pattiserie in Rio, actually.
    I guess I’ll have to go track down the original to win the prize money when I disprove their claim of invention.

  4. I grew up in England, and never having seen this in the States am looking forward to making this and indulging in a taste of home. I LOVE your description of "gouts of cream"! 🙂
    In searching for a recipe I found one with a comment that as cans are no longer lined it is not safe to boil in the can as 'something' leeches into the milk. Know anything about this??

  5. Hello Unique – I’ve not heard a sausage about “something” leeching out of the can. I’m pretty confident it doesn’t. Cans are heated to a high temperature anyway when they’re sealed, and safety standards these days are such that any company lining their cans with something that spontaneously became deadly on heating wouldn’t survive long, given how litigious we are these days.

    The only data I have to go on here is that I, like the dozens of people who have eaten banoffee pies I’ve made, am still alive. Best of luck!

  6. Two things: Firstly I’m not quite happy boiling cans that have a tab opener like drink cans… wouldn’t they open whilst boiling?
    If you are spreading the cream over the bananas, try grating dark chocolate over the cream, give a nice contrast.

  7. ok i admit i dont really know alot about cooking since im only 14 but a lil tip if it helps some people with the base..if you add in a tea spoon of golden syrp into the base mixture it will help it stay together,bye

  8. The original banoffi pie from the Hungry Monk doesn’t use that American style cheesecake base but filo pastry. Just saying.

  9. I will have to check the Hungry Monk out – looks a smashing wee place.

    Also, try crushing a few nuts into the biscuit mixture for the base. Pecans or walnuts – adds a little texture and flavour!

    It also seems to be quite common to add coffee into the whipped cream topping. Has anyone tried this?

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