He promised it would be better than sex. Each bite would explode and tantalize every part of the tongue. I believed him because Anand is a tremendous cook and everything he has made for me in the past has been stellar. I also know Anand would not talk lightly about sex and even though food and porn and sex are some of the most over used clichés, I had a feeling this pie would be mind blowing.
If any of you have wandered the streets of Colaba Causeway and into Café Churchill or found yourself in a bakery in the far ends of Jaiselmer or on the beaches of Goa, Banoffee pie is no stranger to you. Personally I am a chocolate girl but once in a while I crave a creamy fresh fruit delight. What makes Banoffee a little over the top special is the layer of toffee along with bananas. Of the entire flavor pairing in the world this one is just delightful. Imagine it- banana and toffee- they just flow into each, clinging and blending, wrapping their arms and legs around each other. Their sweetness combined with their smooth gooey textures. In fact the name Banoffee is a portmanteau of the two words- banana and toffee.
As the legend goes – a Mister Ian Dowding and a Nigel Mackenzie of the Hungry Monk restaurant in East Sussex are responsible for creating this beauty in the early 70’s. It was inspired by the American Blum’s Coffee Toffee pie, which is a layer of toffee with coffee flavored whipped cream. In the English version, developed by Dowding, the toffee was made by boiling the can of condensed milk to create a soft gooey toffee and further add a layer of bananas – a contribution attributed to Mackenzie. This pie was an instant success. Many restaurants adopted the Banoffee and later supermarkets sold it as American Pie something the duo disputed over.
Dowding is very particular about his recipe- hates biscuit bases and whipped cream that comes in aerosol containers. Dowding has found a perfect follower in Anand who very carefully worked on various layers of this pie following the very pedantic recipe by Mr. Dowding. When I got to Anand’s the piecrust was ready. It was a beautiful golden brown perfectly shaped looking crust. I had wanted to photograph him making the piecrust but he said he worked on it in the middle of the night as the temperatures are cooler and allows the butter to not melt too fast. In a way I am glad I missed how much butter is used to make the piecrust so perfect and crispy.
He was boiling the can of condensed milk in a pressure cooker with the right amount of water (perfectly dunking the cans in water- he boils three cans together as toffee does not get spoilt). On opening the can, the condensed milk is a toffee brown color thick, gooey liquid, the kind of stuff little kids would love to lick clean. He poured the toffee on the crust and evened it out.
Anand used 8 small sized bananas which he split in half, length wise and carefully laid in concentric circles. And on that he applied a layer of the double whipped cream- whipped with some instant coffee. In a previous post, I have posted pictures of how the heavy cream is whipped into stiff peaks. He applied the cream on the bananas and created a beautiful rosette form. Sprinkled some cinnamon and hazelnut chocolate shavings and voila.
As a treat on the side Anand made us a delightful Dulce de Leche Coffee with Old Monk- instant coffee and a dollop of toffee stirred in, topped with some of the cream and sprinkled some chocolate shavings to go as a side with this incredible piece of pie. He attributes this creation to his goddess The Pioneer Woman.
Let me tell you about this pie. The first bite, it takes a few seconds to decipher and discern all the flavours and understand the joy that is taking place in your mouth. You close your eyes and your eyelashes flutter in delight. The softness of the whipped cream, the gooey texture bite of the banana and toffee blending into one heavenly sweet bite and finally the crunch of the perfect biscuity piecrust. It was unimaginably good. Delicious. It was orgasmic- yes and better than sex!
This article has also been published on Bon Vivant's website- which has a collection of some serious good food articles.
And now for the delightful pics:
Natasha was the other friend who got to participate in this beautiful pie orgy. Her sunny dress made a lovely backdrop to the pie photos. She also provided us with non stop giggles throughout this photoshoot.
What a beautiful psychedelic video. I bet Anand would love this!