I’m not much of a one for buying gratuitous amounts of value-added food products. You’re obviously paying a premium for the time and hassle spent by someone else pimping the raw product into the finished article so that you don’t have to. Clearly there are things that I have neither the equipment, nor the skills, nor the patience nor, indeed, the desire to make for myself and I include in this category most dairy products (I wouldn’t know the first thing about making cheese!) and most beverages (our kitchen isn’t big enough for vats of fermenting beer).  If I feel that I can add the value myself, then I’d much rather because my time is free and the resulting product is often much better in terms of flavour, quality and nutrition. Most of our meals are made from scratch these days (luckily for me, most convenience foods are jam-packed full of gluten so I am forced to eat much more healthily) and I object to paying through the nose for things that I can easily do myself, such as shelled nuts, skinned and deboned fish, jointed chicken, washed salad…the list goes on.  It’s not all about money, though, for me – most of all, I love doing it, especially if there’s a challenge involved. I think I must have inherited this predilection from my father: as I write this, I remember one Christmas when, rather than going down to the supermarket to buy a bottle of Malibu, he spent the best part of Christmas Morning trying to create a homemade version using vodka, coconut milk and coffee filter papers!!!

So, I’ve just been raving about adding value myself to products and taking on a challenge, but now I’m going to post a recipe that uses a shortcut, that I’ve no doubt paid extra pennies for. I love banoffee pie but I haven’t eaten it in years. I obviously can’t eat it when I go out because the pastry case will be glutenasty and I haven’t eaten it at home because the idea of leaving a can of Fussell’s boiling on the stove for about four hours and the dread of it spitting its lava-like contents all over me, as I ineptly hack my way into it with a tin-opener, fill me with horror. The first time I tried an Alpro soya caramel dessert, the taste reminded me straightaway of banoffee pie and I immediately thought that using this would be the easiest way to make one without the faff outlined above. I tried it for the first time last night as a twist on the traditional pancake (lemon and sugar are so dull!). Yum! You could also easily make a traditional banoffee pie by just substituting the pancakes for a gluten-free shortcrust pastry case.

Gluten-free easy boozy banoffee pancakes

These pancakes are traditional British ‘Pancake Day’ pancakes – they’re thin and pliable and ideal for folding around and wrapping fillings, either sweet or savoury.

Serves 4

75g gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour
2 eggs
250ml milk
1tbsp vegetable oil
375ml Alpro soya caramel dessert (3 individual tubs)
30ml rum (optional)
4 medium-sized bananas
2 handfuls flaked almonds, toasted
whipped cream, to serve

You will also need a large (25cm), non-stick frying pan (skillet)

First, make the pancake batter. You can either do this in a food processor or by hand. If using a food processor, whiz the eggs, flour, milk and vegetable oil together until completely smooth. If doing by hand, place the flour in a medium-sized bowl. Using a whisk, break up any lumps in the flour. In a separate bowl or jug, lightly whisk the eggs, milk and oil together. Pour the liquids slowly into the centre of the flour, whisking as you do so, bringing the flour in gradually to the middle. This should ensure that there are no lumps. (You can leave the batter to rest for about an hour but if I’m pushed for time, I don’t usually bother and I never seem to notice much difference).

Lightly grease a large (25cm), non-stick frying pan with a little oil and place over a medium heat. When the oil is hot, pour about 100ml of the pancake batter into the pan (I use a soup ladle) and swirl and tilt the pan until the bottom is thinly covered. After about 1-2 minutes, loosen the edges of the pancake all around with a palette knife or fish slice and peek at the bottom. When the pancake is a nice golden brown, flip it over and cook the other side. The pancake is ready when you can see dark brown blisters on the underneath. Remove to a plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, separating each pancake with a sheet of baking parchment.

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the caramel dessert with the rum and slice the bananas into 5mm rounds (if you want to be cheffy, you can do them on the slant!). Place each pancake on an individual serving plate. Spread a quarter of the caramel mixture over each pancake. Mentally divide the pancake into quarters and pile 1 banana’s worth of sliced banana on one of the quarters. Fold the pancake over to make a half-circle and then again to make a quarter-circle. Spoon over whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted, flaked almonds.

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