Food inspiration can come from all over the place. Secret family recipes passed through the generations, experiments with friends over a bottle of wine, within the pages of an exciting new cook book or blog, your favourite restaurant. This one came from a novel. I love books. I love them in the same way I love chocolate or the smell of bread baking in the oven. I did a degree and a Masters in English Literature, overjoyed by the hours I was suddenly allowed to just spend reading. I buy old copies of books I already own just because I like the cover, or the worn pages, or the smell.
This recipe comes from Dawn French’s novel, A Tiny Bit Marvellous. In it she writes a witty, pithy description of a dysfunctional family, lurching through life, struggling to find peace within themselves or the family. However in the background there is Nana P. A quiet, constant,sloe-gin swilling source of comfort and frank advice. She seems to be the only person each family member is able to talk to. She gently steers them towards the right decisions, offers a shoulder to cry on and occasionally the blunt words that need to be heard. Perhaps more importantly, however, she gives them cake. Nana P knows every ones favourite cake. The presence of these familiar, comforting cakes, are perhaps as important as the words being shared. I’m sure most people can think of a cake or a recipe made by their grandmother, or mother or father that transports them home, back to somewhere safe. For me it’s my mum’s sausage rolls. The treat that came out at Christmas and birthday parties. As children we would help roll out the pastry and slop on the egg wash, then hover like vultures around the oven until they were puffy and golden. We could never wait until they were cooled, but nibbled them straight away, puffing and gasping as they burnt our tongues, tossing them between burning hot fingers.
The back of the book has a lovely touch, the recipe for each lovingly crafted cake. This is one of Nana P’s recipes.
Oscar’s Banoffee Pie
200g digestive biscuits
100g chocolate chips (the original recipe calls for pecans, but I couldn’t find those in Hong Kong)
100g butter, melted
3 large banana’s
300ml double cream
1 tbsp icing sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
dark chocolate, grated
150g dark brown muscavado
250mls double cream
– Melt the butter in a pan. Put the biscuits and nuts in a plastic bag and bash them up using a rolling pin. You could also do this in a food processor, but there’s something quite therapeutic about the bashing! Put your crushed biscuit into the butter and mix until well combined.
– Press the mixture into the base of a tin and flatten until the surface us even. Pop it into the fridge for about half an hour to set. Meanwhile, make the caramel. Melt the butter and brown sugar in a large pan. Once the butter is melted add the cream and let it gently bubble for about five minutes until it is slightly thickened. Leave the caramel to cool.
– Spread the caramel over your biscuit base. Peel and Slice the banana’s into thin slices and lay over the top of the caramel.
– Whip up the cream, icing sugar and vanilla extract until it forms stiff peaks.Spread the cream mixture over the bananas.
– Decorate with chocolate shavings and put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. When you’re ready, slide a palette knife around the edge of the tin and gently ease it out.
– Take a swig of home made sloe gin. For cook.
What recipes make you feel at home?