- Food & Drink
There are many ways to make friends in this world, and the most effective of them all is cake. You can try being open, kind, generous, honest, charming, witty, intelligent, wise or sharing a niche hobby like plotting world domination (depending on the kind of friend you’re looking to attract), but nothing generates loyalty and affection faster than a relentless barrage of cake.
When I started my new job in December, I knew my oven was in for a few months of hard work. Not being able to rely on a sweet disposition or enthralling conversation, a steady stream of biscuits, buns and sponge cake seemed the best way to beguile a crowd of strangers into liking me. Some shortbread biscuits one week, a plateful of fruit buns the next – progress was slow but efficient. Eventually, I knew it was time to bring out the big guns; the cake flavour that no one can resist. No, I am not talking about you, Chocolate Cake. I am talking about banoffee.
The most unEnglish of English inventions, banoffee pie first rotted teeth in East Sussex in the early 1970s. Created by Ian Dowding, who based it on a Californian confection – Blum’s Coffee Toffee Pie – it’s a frou-frou mix of bananas, toffee and whipped cream that has spawned a thousand sugary spin-offs. You can buy banoffee vodka, banoffee coffee, banoffee ice cream, banoffee sweets, banoffee cheesecake, banoffee instant dessert whips, banoffee whey protein shakes, banoffee bait flavours for carp fishing – essentially, this stuff is popular. Which makes it perfect for reeling in friends (and carp).
The pie itself wouldn’t survive the commute, and no one wants to be friends with the woman carrying a box of lumpy, melted cream and wet pastry. So a cake stuffed full of bananas and toffee and topped with more bananas and toffee is the stuff friendships are made of. Based on this cupcake recipe from Carnation, these are the cakes I made.
Banoffee cake slices
150g ripe bananas (about 2 medium bananas)
175g salted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour
400g dulce de leche
100g salted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
100g dulce de leche
Banana chips and Flake, to decorate
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/fan oven 160°C. Grease 8 mini loaf tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
2 Mash the bananas with a fork and put them to one side.
3 Beat the butter and sugar together for a few minutes, until they’re fluffy and pale. Beat in the eggs, a little at a time, until it’s smoothly combined. If it looks like curdling, add a spoonful of the flour in-between adding in the egg.
4 Sift in the flour with a little pinch of salt. Fold it in with a flexible spatula. Add the bananas and fold them in, too.
5 Half fill the baking tins with the mixture. Add a teaspoonful of the dulce de leche to each tin. Cover with the remaining mixture and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the sponges are risen, golden and spring back when you gently push them. Cool them on a wire rack.
6 Make the frosting: beat the butter so it’s soft and smooth. Add 100g of the dulce de leche and sift in the icing sugar. Gently beat to make a thick icing.
7 Turn the cakes out of their tins and peel off the baking parchment. Spread or pipe the icing onto the cakes. Press a few banana chips into the icing and sprinkle some crumbled Flake over the top. Store in an airtight box. Eat within 3 days.