The type of hobbies that people have in any country is much dependent on the climate of that country. We can describe this with the simple rule that warm, pleasant climates allow people to go outside and do fun things there, whereas cold and hostile climates tend to confine people to the domestic sphere where one then desperately forces oneself to find or create something fun to do.
For example, typical Italian hobbies include drinking cocktails at the beach, eating pricey crustaceans and having lots of steamy affairs with attractive people. Italians also enjoy riding motorbikes in shorts and buying revealing clothes.
Scottish hobbies, on the other hand, include reading, popping bubble plastic, drinking oneself out of one’s wits and watching films. All things you can do in the comfort, warmth and dryness of your own house. Because you can only read so many books and watch so many films, Scottish people also bake. Yes, I mean they use their ovens to make confectionery. And in absurd quantities, as well.
The Scottish (and maybe the British in general) are really good at making tasty cakes, pies, desserts: sweets, in short. Their best invention, which funnily enough requires no baking at all, must be the banoffee pie. It has the ugliest name in the world (I really, really hate names made up of two words for lack of a more creative solution) but it is so goddamn delicious that I am prepared to ignore the name completely, no, even to embrace it, and eat lots of this goodness.
Banoffee pie is easy enough to make but it does take a while, especially if you are making your own caramel. Most of it is waiting time though, so you can grab a book and dedicate yourself to your other hobby while you bake.
– Half a pack of hobnobs (or, for the Dutch, koekjes zoals de country cookies van de Albert Heyn)
– about 50gr of butter
– a couple of bananas
– a carton of double cream
– icing sugar
– some chocolate, to melt
– if you can’t be bothered with caramel, a tin of Carnation Caramel
If you’re making your own caramel:
– a litre of full fat milk
– 300gr of brown sugar (demerara or something? I used demerara and it seemed to work)
– a wee bit of vanilla (extract will do)
– wee pinch of bicarbonate of soda
If you’re making your own caramel, start with this, it takes an hour. Put all the milk in the pan, heat up. Add all of the other ingredients and bring to the boil, but be gentle! Turn the heat down so that the whole concoction only just bubbles and stir frequently to prevent the lot from sticking to the bottom of your pan where it will turn into a massive layer of granite, grinning at you with its demonic, sooty countenance from underneath the water that you uselessly soak it in for days before finally admitting defeat, chucking it out and buying a new one.
Right, so keep stirring frequently. In the beginning it will just be milk with sugar in it, but after a while (at least half an hour and probably more near 45 minutes, I would say) it should start to thicken. You want it to be fairly thick, not too runny, but beware: after you turn off the heat and you let it cool it will become even more dense, so try to take your caramel off the fire a bit before it reaches the density you had in mind.
So that’s the caramel, then! Now crush your biscuits. In a food processor is the easiest, but otherwise you can use something like a glass bottle or your hands. You want them as fine as possible though.
Put the hobnob powder in some kind of cake tin. Melt the butter in the microwave, mix well with the late hobnobs, then press it all down so that it becomes a fairly solid base (if you’re using a spring cake tin, cover the sides as well). Put in the fridge to cool for at least an hour.
Slice up the bananas and whip up your double cream with a tbsp of icing sugar.
Take the cake tin out of the fridge and spread the caramel over the base. Divide the bananas over the caramel and top the lot with the cream. Put back in the fridge to set for a while more. Top with some melted chocolate before serving up, or, if you can’t be bothered with that, use a cheese slicer to grate some chocolate over the top.