The True History of the Banoffee Pie

By Lyn Funnell

The Hungry Monk. Now closed.

Banoffee Pie, originally spelt Banoffi Pie, has become one of the most popular sweets in the world.

I heard that it was a favourite of Elvis Presley. And I’ve also heard it described as an American dish!

Well no it’s not. It was created in the small village of Jevington, near Eastbourne, in Sussex in 1971.

I was given the recipe by a chef friend in 1976. The original recipe (see below) had coffee in it.

My chef friend used Camp Coffee, the liquid coffee in a bottle.

I don’t add any coffee.

The restaurant where it was created is now closed. It is a 16th century building which was originally a monk’s rest.

It was bought and modernised by Nigel and Sue Mackenzie, and then they set to work with their chef Ian Dowding to create a menu of original dishes.

They needed one more dessert and they experimented with different fruits. But none of them were quite right, until they tried bananas. And Banoffi Pie was born!

Nigel named it Signor Banoffi’s Pie, to make it sound Italian.

Customers from as far away as London called to book a table, first checking that the Banoffi Pie was still on the menu.

The restaurant was fully booked for months ahead.

It was said that David Essex went there after his performance on the theatre stage in Eastbourne and he was told that the restaurant closed at 10.

‘But don’t you know who I am?’ poor David desperately asked.

‘Yes sir, but we close at 10,’ was the rather heartless reply.

I’m a firm believer that it’s a restaurant’s duty to feed a hungry customer and they should be able to put something together, like a salad or a sandwich.

The recipe for Banoffi Pie has never been a secret. It was published in the Hungry Monk’s cookery book in 1974, The Deeper Secrets of the Hungry Monk, which sold over 100,000 copies.

Nestle printed the recipe on the side of their condensed milk tins.

My Banoffee Pie

Here is the original Hungry Monk recipe;

The Original ‘Hungry Monk’ Banoffi Pie
Serves 8-10
Recipe courtesy of Ian Dowding of ‘The Hungry Monk’

For the pastry:
9 oz plain flour
1 oz icing sugar
4 1/2 oz butter
1 egg & 1 egg yolk

For the Banoffi toffee sauce:
1 1/2 tins condensed milk – 13.5 ounces each
5-6 firm yet ripe bananas
1 1/2 cups double cream – whipping cream or crème fraîche work well too
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp freshly ground coffee

For the pastry, place the flour and sugar in a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and then rub the mixture together until it resembles fine bread crumbs. Work the egg into the dough to form a paste, then cover and chill for half an hour. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

When ready, lightly grease a 10-inch x 1 1/2-inch deep loose bottomed tart tin, and line with the pastry thinly rolled out. Prick the base all over with a fork, line with parchment paper and weigh down with dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes then remove the beans and parchment. Put the pastry case back into the oven and cook until its evenly golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

For the toffee sauce, start by placing the unopened tins in a deep pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil on the stovetop. Cover with a lid and transfer to a preheated 285°F oven for 3 1/2 hours. Lift the tins from the water and allow to cool completely before opening. Note: The longer they cook, the darker and thicker the toffee will be.

To compose the pie, carefully spread the toffee over the cooked pastry, then top with peeled and sliced bananas. Whip the cream, sugar and instant coffee granules, until thick and smooth. To finish, spoon the cream over the bananas, up to the edge of the pastry, then lightly sprinkle with freshly ground coffee, and garnish with some sliced bananas on top, just before serving.


COOK’S NOTE: The caramel-toffee sauce is a great addition to many dishes such as ice-cream and poached pears. 

I usually now use a cheesecake base, with crushed biscuits stirred into melted butter and a tablespoon of Golden Syrup, then pressed into a pie dish. Pour in the caramel sauce, cover it with slices of banana and top it with double cream.

Nestle now produces a caramel version of their condensed milk, so you don’t need to boil the cans for three hours.

Mary Berry’s Banoffe Pie has a simple way to make the Caramel Sauce.

Heat 30zs butter and 3ozs sugar in a pan and stir over a low heat. Add a tin of condensed milk and bring to a boil, stirring continuously until it turns a dark golden. Add a teaspoonful of vanilla essence, stir, and tip over the base in the pie dish.

This tastes almost the same as the boiled condensed milk and is much simpler to make.



  • Lyn Funnell

    Lyn is the co-owner of Unknown Kent and Sussex. She lives in Sussex. Lyn has been writing for most of her life, both Fiction & Non-Fiction. She loves cookery & creating original recipes. She's won a lot of prizes, including Good Housekeeping Millenium Menu & on BBC The One Show as a runner-up, making her Britain's Spag Bol Queen! She has had nine books published so far. History, Travel & Restaurant Reviews are her main interests.

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