Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recipe: Banana Pancakes

If there's one thing I can cook in my sleep, it's pancakes. I've been making them every Saturday morning since I moved to Indiana, which means I've probably cooked them around a hundred times, literally. Usually I tweak the living daylights out of any recipe cook with regularity, but this one I leave alone. I adore the fluffy, yet thin and lightly sweet texture and flavor. Most importantly, I know exactly what to expect every time I go to cook them.

Last month I was on a business trip with my colleague, Kelly. We got into a conversation about the challenges of cooking for just one person, a challenge both of us can relate to, when she mentioned she was looking for a banana pancake recipe. I didn't have one I could recommend, so I told her I'd see if I could modify the one I use for plain pancakes.

Just adding in mashed banana to my current recipe didn't seem like a brilliant plan, so I tweaked the quantities of flour and buttermilk to balance out the texture. The original recipe has more sugar, but the banana provides sweetness that makes up for the reduced amount of sugar. The end product is simply delightful. It's like dessert for breakfast.

Do yourself a favor when you make these: Try them naked first. The knee-jerk reaction to pancakes is to doctor them with butter and maple-flavored syrup. Sub-par pancakes may need the help but these pancakes are different. They have plenty of flavor and sweetness on their own that they need hardly any topping at all. You may even decide you prefer them that way.

When you do get around to topping them, try a thin layer of peanut butter, chopped walnuts and just a drizzle of maple syrup*.

*When I say maple syrup, I mean the real stuff. Not the reduced-calorie, HFCS-saturated, kinda-tastes-like-sweetened-plastic junk. Check out grocers that have bulk bins and get your maple syrup there. This allows you to get a fresher product and lets you buy a smaller quantity.

Banana Pancakes
Original Recipe, Especially for Kelly
15 minutes
Serves 2

These pancakes give a use for that overripe banana in your kitchen. Try topping with peanut butter, chopped walnuts and a touch of syrup for a decadent breakfast.

  • 1 overripe banana
  • ½ Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • ½ c. buttermilk
  • 1/3 c. regular white flour
  • ¼ c. wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt

  1. In a small bowl, mash the overripe banana until mostly smooth.
  2. Add the melted butter, egg and buttermilk to the banana. Whisk until well combined.
  3. In a separate, larger bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Add wet mixture into dry mixture and fold together until just combined.
  5. Place a griddle over medium heat. When warmed, place ¼ cup of batter on the griddle for each pancake. Allow to cook for two minutes on one side, or until browned underneath.
  6. Flip the pancakes and cook for an additional two minutes on the other side. Serve immediately.

Tips and Tricks:
  1. When mixing the wet and dry ingredients together, stir them as little as possible. The more they’re mixed at this step, the flatter they’ll end up. I usually fold until they’re mostly combined and then whisk lightly with a fork to integrate any errant flour.
  2. To test if your griddle is hot enough for the pancakes, flick a drop of water on the warmed surface. It should skid and evaporate fairly quickly. If it evaporates almost instantly or just sits on the surface it is too hot or too cold, respectively.
  3. If you wish to use all white flour, omit the wheat flour and use an additional ¼ cup of white flour.

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