Shirlee Goodness Cakery

Making the world a sweeter place one cake at a time

Bananas + Toffee = Banofee Pie!

Slices of Banoffee Pie

Slices of Banoffee Pie

Last month, I spent some time in Ireland for work.  While I was there, I tried an English dessert called Banoffee Pie. The pie consisted of a creamy layer of toffee filling, sliced bananas, and mounds of fluffy whipped cream, all on a tasty cookie crumb crust and dusted with chocolate.  It was so delicious, I decided I wanted to make it when I went home.

“The Completely True and Utter Story of Banoffi Pie” is told in an entertaining manner by  Ian Dowding who invented the creation.  He also provides the “Official Banoffi Pie” recipe here.  Mr. Dowding’s yummy creation has undergone some transformations to it’s most popular form today.  From what I gather, he detests crumb crusts, but the two versions I ate in Ireland both had crumb crusts.  All the recipes I saw (except for his) did also.  His original whipped cream topping has an addition of coffee flavor, but again, I did not see that anywhere.  I did add some instant coffee to some whipped cream as he instructs, and tried it on a piece pie, but I really didn’t like it, so left out the coffee.  The popular version with crumb crust and unsweetened whipped cream is given below.

The recipe I used was given to me by my Irish coworker. It’s very simple, with few ingredients.  There’s really no baking involved, it’s more of an assembling of the ingredients.  And it will taste like you got it from a bakery!

Crumb crust made with digestive biscuits

Crumb crust made with digestive biscuits


4 ounces butter, melted

20 McVities Digestive Biscuits (can be found at Cost Plus World Markets, link to store locator)  For gluten-free crust, see note below.

14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

~4 bananas

1 pint whipping cream

grated chocolate or cocoa powder

1.   Submerge (unopened) can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of water.  Bring water to a boil and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Open can of sweetened condensed milk after simmering for 3 hours.  It's hot so be careful!

Open can of sweetened condensed milk after simmering for 3 hours. It’s hot so be careful!

2.  While the milk is cooking, assemble pie crust. Crush biscuits until you have a fine crumb texture.  You can do this by placing the biscuits in a ziploc bag and crushing them with a rolling pin, or by using a food processor.  Pour crumbs into a bowl.  Add the melted butter and stir to combine.  Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan or other baking dish.  (I made a large pie in a 10×13 dish to share at work when I got back from my trip.)  Chill the crust for at least one hour.

3.  When the sweetened condensed milk has cooked for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, carefully remove the can from the pot of water and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.  The contents will be hot and under pressure.  The can I used had a pull tab.  I used a pot holder to hold the very hot can, and a butter knife to pop the tab.  Some of the toffee squirted out, so be careful!  Pour or spoon the toffee onto the crumb crust.  Chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Layer of bananas over the toffee.

Layer bananas over the toffee.

4.  Slice bananas and arrange in a single layer on top of the toffee. If using a spring form pan, remove the sides from the pan and place the pie on a plate.Whip the cream and spoon it over the toffee and bananas, spreading to the edges to seal the pie.  Sprinkle with grated chocolate or cocoa powder.  Serve and enjoy!

Single serving Banoffee Pie with gluten-free crust made from almond meal.

Single serving Banoffee Pie with gluten-free crust made from almond meal.

Note #1:  For a gluten-free version, I made the crust from 1 cup of Trader Joe’s ground almond meal mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar and 3 tablespoons of melted butter.  This made some small 4-inch tarts for my gluten-free friends.

Note #2:  Mr. Dowding says that multiple cans of sweetened condensed milk may be prepared ahead of time and stored for later use.

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Gluten Free Red Velvet Cake

Gluten Free Fall Birthday Cake

This year for our family Thanksgiving meal, my sister-in-law requested a birthday cake celebrating the fall birthdays: her mom and sister’s birthdays and my son’s birthday.  Since my sister-in-law and her daughter are gluten- intolerant, I ventured into the world of gluten-free baking.

Leveled cake layer

I have eaten a few gluten-free baked goods in the past.  They are usually dense and rather dry.  Then I went to “Sensitive Sweets,”  a gluten-free and nut-free bakery in Fountain Valley, California.  Oh, my!  Their cakes and breads are delicious, and so pretty, too!  So I know that it is possible to make good gluten-free baked goods.

I searched on the internet for recipes.  I settled on a gluten-free red velvet cake.  The picture and reviews were what sold me…the cake had the texture of a “normal” cake and the reviews said that everyone liked the cake and couldn’t even tell that it was gluten-free!  To substitute for wheat flour, the recipe asked for brown rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, and xanthum gum.  I figured that so many substitutes must help to approximate wheat flour!  You can find the recipe at Gluten Free Cooking School.

Putting together the cake layers

As you can see, the texture of the cake looks like a cake from a box mix.  It’s has a fairly coarse texture with large air pockets.  So far so good.

Then I tasted some of the cake crumbs when I leveled the cake.  Hmmmm, kind of gritty, a little chewy and healthy tasting. Also a little oily.  Note to self:  use butter next time for sure.  My husband said the cake tasted like oatmeal, and my daughter said it reminded her of some breakfast bars.  Definitely anyone who has eaten a basic cake could tell it was gluten-free!  Oh well.  As it was already Thanksgiving morning, I didn’t have time to make another cake, so I continued on.  I hoped the cream cheese frosting would help with the overall cake eating experience.

After I tasted the cake, I decided to use a different frosting recipe, one that was less sweet and had a stronger and more tangy cream cheese flavor.  This is the recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen. Basically, it asks for twice the cream cheese (two 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese) and half the sugar (2 cups or 8 ounces) compared to the Gluten Free Cooking School Recipe. Just to let you know the other ingredients, they are 10 tablespoons of butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Cream cheese leaves in fall colors

Speaking of cream cheese frosting, I think it’s hard to do much piping using cream cheese frosting because it’s so soft.  I decided to go with very simple decoration, using fall-colored cream cheese candies in the shape of leaves.  You can find the recipe in my previous post.

Me and the Birthday Girls

When the cake was served after the Thanksgiving meal, the overall experience wasn’t too bad.  The cream cheese frosting did compliment  the red velvet cake nicely.

Even though I was disappointed with the results, I was really happy that my niece, who is gluten-intolerant, really liked the cake.  My next goal is to try some other gluten-free recipes and see if I can make a better tasting gluten-free cake. It will be a challenge!

My niece enjoying the gluten-free birthday cake

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